I am a big fan of the whiskies made at the Springbank distillery but not always a fan of their pricing, especially in the US. On the one hand the price of the 10 yo has remained constant for a long time (and it offers great value) and the 15 yo too—at this point anyway—remains reasonably priced for the age (and also very good). But after that the prices begin to go through the roof. The 18 yo is very expensive and the 21 yo even more so still. The lowest price currently shown for it in the US on Winesearcher is $350 (before tax) and there are stores charging north of $500 for it. As far as I can make out the justification for this is that it is not made in very large quantities and Springbank is a cult distillery. Certainly, while the only other Springbank 21 I’ve had was very good (the 2013 release) it did not remotely justify the price being asked for it then (which was about the same as the current price). Will this 2019 version be a lot better? I’m not sure but I’m curious to see what a Springbank from a combination of rum and port casks—which is what this is—is like. I’ve had rum cask Springbank and port cask Springbank and neither made me wish for more of those over their regular bourbon and sherry offerings. Let’s see how it goes.
Springbank 21, 2019 Release (46%; port and rum casks; from a bottle split)
Nose: Sweet orange and raisins, pipe tobacco and damp earth. There’s a mild sharpness that implies sulphur. As it sits there’s a mild metallic note and some red fruit (cherry). The port gets more talkative with a few drops of water.
Palate: Sweet arrival and then the damp earth and some mild peat. No sulphur issues here, thankfully. The texture seems a bit thin. On the second sip there’s some cracked pepper and the damp earth is joined by some of the trademark Springbank sackcloth and cracked coriander seed. Gets quite salty as it sits. Okay, let’s see what water does. The texture improves and it’s less sweet and more earthy.
Finish: Medium. The peat and earth hang out. Peatier as it sits (organic notes, not smoke). Saltier here too with time. Less salt, more earth with water.
Comments: I couldn’t really find much sign of the rum casks here and, neat, it’s not particularly port-forward either. But I’m not complaining. After a weak start this is Springbank through and through. Very enjoyable but I have to say I prefer the 15 yo—especially at the price.
Rating: 87 points.