On Wednesday I posted a review of a recent release of the Highland Park 12. Here now is a review of the 2017 release of another whisky that I used to enjoy a lot but have inconceivably neglected since my review in 2013 of a bottle from the 2010 release: the Springbank 15. Like the Highland Park 12, this bottle too has been redesigned. But if in the case of the Highland Park 12 what used to be a very unassuming bottle has been completely re-designed (more than once) to its current etched form, all that’s changed in the case of the Springbnk 15 is the label. And I am probably not alone in thinking that it is a change for the uglier rather than the prettier. Whatever else they’re spending their time and money on at the home base in Campbeltown, I’m not sure that they’re spending a lot of either on packaging design. But how about what’s inside the bottle? Has it too changed as the Highland Park 12 has? Read on to find out.
Springbank 15 (46%; 2017 release; from my own bottle)
Nose: Earthy, briny, leathery at first. Then there’s dried orange peel, cracked coriander seed, a bit of mentholated oak and light whiffs of wood smoke. Lovely. Gets saltier as it sits. With more time stickier notes come to the surface: toffee, caramel. Water pushes the earthy notes back and pulls out more of the fruit (more apricot than orange now).
Palate: All the stuff from the nose but different emphasis: the orange is to the fore here and it’s sweeter than on the nose; below is the earth, damp now, and expanding brine. Very nice texture at full strength. On the second sip the citrus shades towards lemon and blends perfectly with the salt and the earthy notes. More and more leathery as it goes. Okay, let’s add some water. Brighter and more acidic with water and also more peppery.
Finish: Long. The brine and earthy notes yield again to the sweeter fruit—apricot now with the orange. More leathery here too with time. As on the palate with water but the earthy notes emerge again at the end along with some mustard.
Comments: Oh, Springbank 15, why have I neglected you for so many years? Yes, this is as good as it was when I first drank it in the late 2000s. And not so very much more expensive, at least here in Minnesota. Interesting progression with water—I like it both ways.
Rating: 89 points.