An old post of mine on distillery character and whether it exists suddenly became very popular earlier this week—I guess someone linked to it somewhere on Facebook? In that post I registered skepticism about the idea of distillery character as normally bandied about by whisky geeks. I have to admit though that Springbank is the distillery that most rebukes my argument (the exception that proves the rule?) with a profile that is remarkably consistent across official and (rare) independent releases and across their Springbank and Longrow lines (it’s been a long time since I had a Hazelburn). Indeed, the Springbank DNA is evident in Kilkerran as well. That profile is present in spades in this Springbank 18 as well (spoiler alert: I rather like it). I’m very glad to review this 2016 release, not just because I love that Springbank profile but because I was under the impression I’d reviewed more than one Springbank 18 in the past when in fact I have hitherto reviewed a total of zero. It’s high time this gap was filled.
Springbank 18, 2016 Release (46% from a bottle split)
Nose: Oh yes, that old Springbank voodoo of brine, damp earth, burlap, coriander seed; plus a sweet note somewhere between apple and vanilla. As it sits the brine begins to shade towards rock salt and the sweet fruit moves from apple to orange. A few drops of water pulls out a lot more brine and turns the orange to preserved lemon; and that hint of mango leather from the finish comes with it.
Palate: Comes in with all of the early notes on the nose plus a nice peaty, peppery bite. A perfect drinking strength and texture. More of the same on the second sip and that’s a good thing. Stays in this vein. With water it gets sweeter (sweet oranges) and the coriander seed is joined by some candied ginger. More acidic now than earthy but all the other stuff is still here.
Finish: Medium. The pepper and the sweet notes go out together. The peat pops out again towards the end. With more time there are faint notes of mango leather at the very end. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Just lovely. Comes roaring out of the gate with all the Springbank character you could want and gets even better with a few drops of water. It’s too bad this stuff is so expensive now! As much as I like it I can’t justify a bottle.
Rating: 89 points.