I’ve sung the praises of the Springbank distillery so often that I am not going to bother doing it again. Suffice it to say that in an industry that for the last decade has been seeming to move further and further away from what’s in the bottle, Springbank (and their younger siblings at Glengyle/Kilkerran) have been keeping it real, making the whisky they’ve always been making. And one of those whiskies is the 12 yo, cask strength. I’ve had a number of batches of these over the years (and I’ve reviewed a few) and I do believe I’ve liked them all a lot. The formulation has changed over the years; there’s now more bourbon casks than sherry in the mix—indeed, if the Whiskybase entry can be trusted, this is composed from 65% ex-bourbon and 35% ex-sherry casks. The 18 yo and above and their single cask releases are all priced quite high—this is my only major complaint about them—but the 10 yo and the 15 yo are still relative bargains and at <$80 this will be too if it’s as good as previous batches. Let’s see.
Springbank 12 CS, Batch 19 (57.1%; from my own bottle)
Nose: All the Springbank goodness: peppery peat, coriander seed, leather, damp earth, sack cloth. Sweeter as it sits with a very mild rubbery note developing as well (it’s actually pleasant). Oh, water adds 10 years of age to it: all the same stuff but now more delicate, refined and nuanced.
Palate: Exactly as promised by the nose but with fruit emerging as I swallow. Nice texture and very approachable at full strength. More peat and pepper on the second sip and some lime as well. Saltier and more acidic with time (lime). With more time the salt and lime merge a la preserved lime. Water brightens it up with notes of wet limestone and more lime; more smoke now as well.
Finish: Long. Saltier as it goes. Water pushes the salt back and pulls out a bit of savoury gunpowder.
Comments: Not that I’ve had all of them—or even close—but, as I said, I cannot remember the last time I had a Springbank 12 CS that I did not like. This is one of the most dependable whiskies there is, even as the formulation has changed. Very drinkable neat but water kicks it up a level, especially on the nose. Highly recommended.
Rating: 88 points.