Last week’s review of a Glendronach 19, 1993 was the first of five reviews of bottles I opened to mark my 50th birthday. As I said last week, all five whiskies were distilled and/or bottled in significant years of my life. That Glendronach was distilled in 1993, the year I left India for the United States, where I’ve lived ever since. Today’s Springbank was distilled in 1996 which is not a particularly significant year in my life; but it was bottled in 2009, the year our first child was born. I really liked last week’s Glendronach; I’ll be really bummed if I picked a less than good cask to mark the year of his birth.
The odds, however, are good. I’ve liked all the other casks in this sherry wood series that Springbank’s old importers, Preiss Imports, released back in 2009. I’ve previously reviewed the Oloroso cask; others included a Cream Sherry and an Amontillado cask (bottles emptied pre-blog). I could be wrong but I think this was among the first of what turned out to be a regular series of single sherry cask Springbank releases in the US (there were a couple of wine cask releases before this). It was followed by a 14 yo sherry cask series a couple of years later and there’s been a regular trickle of these ever since, at ever increasing prices. I purchased this not too long after release and have been sitting on it ever since for no good reason. Well, let’s open it now and see what it’s like.
Springbank 12, 1996 (56.3%; fino sherry cask; from my own bottle)
Nose: Tobacco, damp earth, dried orange peel, dried shiitake mushrooms. On the second sniff there’s a lot of brine as well. As it sits the peat expands a bit and is joined by some spicy notes (coriander seed, cinnamon) and some savoury gunpowder. Saltier still with a few drops of water and the gunpowder recedes a bit.
Palate: Pretty much as indicated by the nose and pretty much in that order. Very approachable at full strength but this should open up nicely with water. Gets saltier and more peppery with each sip. And yes, as it sits the plum from the finish starts showing up earlier. Okay, let’s see what water does. It emphasizes the leather and salt and spices.
Finish: Long. The damp earth and tobacco hang out for a while and then there’s some fruit (plum) that should with time and water come out earlier on the palate. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Big sherry but also big Springbank character. Evidence that some distillates are better built for sherry maturation than others. Yes, there’s some sulphur here but it’s not of the rubbery, cabbagey, mouth-furring type. Still, I would have liked just a little more fruit. On the whole, though, a very good whisky. Hmmm… I could be wrong but I think I might have a big sample of the Cream Sherry cask saved—if I can find it maybe I’ll review that next month.
Rating: 88 points.