Let’s stay in Campbeltown, at the Springbank distillery, for one more day; but let’s not get any more timely than last Friday’s 2010 release of the Springbank 18. Indeed, this whisky was released in 2009. It was one of four sherry cask releases for the US market under the “Wood Expressions” banner. All were distilled in 1996. I’ve reviewed two of the others: the oloroso and the fino. This cream sherry cask was actually the first one I opened even though it’s the last I’m reviewing—I’d saved a 6 oz sample from it as used to be my usual practice at the time. Well, usual but not invariable: I have no saved sample I can find of the amontillado cask even though my spreadsheet says I’d consumed a bottle of that around the same time as this one. Ah well. I stopped preserving 6 oz samples from bottles a few years ago, as my shelves had gotten overrun with them and I was worried they’d degrade before I got to them all. Most of the ones I’ve opened recently have been in perfect condition, however, both making me thankful that I saved some of these to try again many years later and making me wonder if I should re-start the practice now so I can savour some of the bottles I’m opening now in another 8-10 years. Time warps and whatnot.
Springbank 12, 1996, Cream Sherry Cask (56.1%; from a reference sample saved from my own bottle)
Nose: Damp earth, dried orange peel, soy sauce, dried mushrooms. As it sits there’s a whiff of gunpowder with the savoury notes. Saltier with time but the orange also gets sweeter and juicier. With more time there’s some apricot and brighter notes of orange cutting through the savoury and salty complex. A few drops of water knock the dried mushrooms and the gunpowder back almost completely and emphasize the dried citrus.
Palate: As predicted by the nose: a big savoury, umami bomb with the dried and sweet citrus wafting through it. It’s held the strength very well in the 6 oz bottle; there’s some bite to it. A bit of sherry separation as it heads to the finish. As on the nose there’s more gunpowder here too with time and then a lot of salt. With more time the gunpowder retreats a bit and the sherry separation eases as well. Okay, let’s add water. Water brings some of the savoury notes back out again but it’s more balanced now and the apricot that emerged on the nose pops out here as well.
Finish: Medium-long. The sherry, thankfully, recombines quickly. The salt that appears on the palate carries on and expands dramatically before letting the sweeter fruit peep out again at the end. The sherry separation actually gets more delayed with time, emerging on the finish; more dried mushrooms here too with time. More balance here too with water and generally as on the palate.
Comments: You might expect a whisky from a cream sherry cask to be sweet but this is a dry, savoury sherry bomb. As with the other sherry releases in this series, this was probably not for the sulphur-phobe but if you enjoy a light to mild dose of gunpowder and dried mushrooms, well, then you probably enjoyed this as much as I did back in the day and then again now. I’ll drink the remaining 4 or so ounces with water.
Rating: 86 points.