Springbank 17 2002, Madeira Wood

Springbank week began on Monday with a review of the 2019 edition of the Local Barley. On Wednesday I had a rather more untimely review: the 2009 release of the Hazelburn 12. Today’s review is far more timely, being of a whisky released in 2020. But the whisky world being what it is these days, you may not have very much luck in finding a bottle. And Springbank prices being what they are these days, even if you did you’d probably have to sell a kidney to buy it. The whisky in question is a 17 yo billed on the front label as “Madeira Cask Matured”. In fact—as the rear label clarifies—it’s a vatting of 14 yo rum and bourbon cask spirit matured for a further 3 years in fresh madeira hogsheads. As it happens, one of the first Springbanks I had outside of the standard age-stated lineup was an 11 yo Madeira wood release from 2009—well before I started this blog—and I liked that one a lot (I think I still have a bottle of it on my shelves). And I also quite liked a 14 yo released by K&L in 2011 as well as a 16 yo released in 2013 that was double matured for 10 + 6 years in bourbon and madeira casks. So the odds seem to be in favour of my liking this one as well, despite its more Frankenstein’s monster’ish composition. Let’s see if that actually proves to to be the case.

Springbank 17 2002, Madeira Wood (47.8%; from a bottle split)

Nose: A very Springbank beginning with brine, burlap, paper and coriander seed. On the second sniff some sweeter fruit emerges from below all of that (hard to pick what it is) along with a bit of savoury gunpowder (the good kind of sulphur). Gets earthier as it goes and the fruit is now a mix of preserved lemon and dried apricot. With more time the fruit gets a little redder (a bit of cherry maybe but not a lot). With water it’s somehow both softer/creamier and earthier. The citrus moves towards citronella now.

Palate: Comes in sweeter here (almost raisiny) before the earthy notes rise up, bringing a bit of bitterness with them. Nice texture and a nice bite at 47.8%. Sweeter as I swallow. On the second sip the bitter note (as much pencil lead as oak tannin) comes out faster and it’s a bit too assertive for my liking. Stays quite consistent with time. Water pushes the bitter notes back and sharpens the acid. And then the spice picks up too (cracked coriander seed and white pepper).

Finish: Long. The bitter note expands into the finish, turns a bit leathery and then picks up a lot of salt as it fades. With time that savoury gunpowder from the nose emerges here as well. As on the palate with water but there’s also cracked pepper here now. Gets creamier here too at the end

Comments: Well, this is very nice in the way that Springbank almost always is but I can’t say there’s much reason to pay what must doubtless have been a steep asking price over the regular 12 yo CS or even the 15 yo. I’m not saying the profiles are identical; only that there’s nothing so very distinctive going on here. If I didn’t know how this was made I don’t know that I would have guessed a rum cask component or an extended double maturation in madeira casks. Hmmm maybe I need to open that last bottle of the old madeira wood release sometime soon.

Rating: 87 points.



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