Springbank released two batches of the 1997 vintage, one in 2007 and one in 2008. I bought a bottle of the second batch not too long after its release and have been sitting on it now for about a decade for some reason. Well, I think the reason might have been that I’d hoped to find a bottle of the first batch and open them together. That never happened but a few years ago I did acquire 8 ounces of Batch 1 via a bottle split; not sure why I didn’t do that paired tasting then but better late than never.
The bottle was acquired by Florin—the man who brought the good news from Ghent to Aix—at a store in Berlin in 2014. Michael Kravitz of Diving for Pearls and I then split it with him. Michael, being a young hasty type, only waited four years to review a part of his share. Here now are my notes.
Springbank 1997, Batch 1 (55.2%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Lots of salt off the top along with a coppery note (old coins); some acid below that and the usual Springbank damp earth. Some sweeter notes on the second sniff but the salt/brine complex is still on top. With time there’s peat and cocoa and some orange. The brine is still big. Sweeter with a few drops of water (peach, raspberry)
Palate: Comes in sweeter but then there’s the brine again along with some smoke as I swallow. Very nice texture and depth of flavour at full strength. Saltier on the second sip and that mix of copper and damp earth from the nose is here too. The salt never lets up but more and more citrus begins to peek through along with some milky cocoa and some peppery smoke (I know it sounds like an unlikely combination but it works). After about 20 minutes there’s quite a bit of sweet orange and the leather from the finish pops out earlier. Okay, let’s add a bit of water. Nothing new with water but it emphasizes the citrus and knits everything together nicely.
Finish: Long. The salt picks up some cured meat notes (briny and sweet) and there’s some mustard and leather as well. The citrus that shows up on the palate sticks around into the finish and it gets more peppery. More mustard seed and pepper with water.
Comments: At first this was just a solid Springbank—which is to say, quite good. But with time and air it really came on strong with fruit mingling with the austere notes and forming a more complex whole. Okay, on to Batch 2 on Friday!
Rating: 89 points.