Expectation is an interesting notion. It can bring excitement, worry or joy, amongst other things. However, when we expect something of someone, then it shows that they have given us a reason to believe in them. I have high expectations of Springbank as a distillery. High, but fair expectations. They produce beautifully crafted whiskies year in year out, don’t scream and shout about what they’re doing, whilst never seeming to succumb to the pressure of “certain trends” in the whisky industry.
When the news came out that there was to be a new special release of a local barley Springbank. My head was definitely turned. Only last year had I been lucky enough to taste a 14yo Springbank Local Barley which was a Society special release. It blew my mind. The perfect mix of light peat, spices, dark fruits and light sherry.
This news however was not only dangerous for my expectations, but also my wallet. £90 for a bottle of 16yo whisky isn’t shocking by any means in this market, but when parting with close to £100, you want to make sure you are more than happy with the contents. More pricey than last years 17yo sherry-wood, but with the wonderful provenance behind this new whisky, you can understand the slight price hike. I hope to see more in regards to provenance over the coming years, what with distilleries such as Springbank and Bruichladdich taking the lead.
When this new release hit certain online whisky retailers yesterday, many of the bottle stocks had sold out before people had a chance to say “Ooo I love Springbank”. There may only be 9000 bottles of this in the world, but it also shows that it’s not just me who has high expectations. Let’s hope that we don’t see too many of these appearing on auction sites over the coming months. However, how was this going to live up to my expectations? I expected it to be brilliant when ordering it yesterday. I expected it to be brilliant when it arrived on my doorstep less than 24 hours later. I expected it to be brilliant when I saw the classy and classic bottle design. It was Shakespeare who wrote “I am giddy; expectation whirls me around!” in his play Troilus and Cressida. I’m not whirling, but pretty close to giddy. What did I think?
Springbank 16yo Local Barley (54.3%)
N: One of those beguiling Springbank noses. Deep sweetness, light peat, hint of floral tones and pepper. Giving it some time in the glass opens up aromas of wet rope and engine oil. Interestingly wine like. Some spice, stewed apples and raisins. It is like walking through a crop field on a damp summer day. Water opens the nose more, playing with the sweetness. Perfection of a Springbank nose.
P: Gristly on first arrival, before quickly alternating to a velvety delivery. Wow that was impressive. Pepper, toffee, earthy and full of depth, yet incredibly easy on the tongue and palate in general. This is oily, has a hint of rose petal and incredibly smooth for 54.3%. The gentle peat sits on the edge of the tongue. Each drop of water intensifies all of these flavours.
F: Long. The oil lingers before leaving a shred of salt water and apple peal. Peat disappears gently. A splash of water brought out the pepper on the finish.
Comments: This is one heck of a 90’s Springbank. This isn’t only the exact balance of fruit, peat and oil I was looking for; but it is complex and juicy with a finish that goes on for hours.
This is a whisky that not only makes you sit up and question what some other distilleries are doing with their time, but most importantly puts a smile on your face. I would call this a near perfect Springbank in my book. Of course it is slightly rough around the edges, but that is what makes this distillery wonderful for me. Would I recommend you try to taste this whisky? It is beautifully made, delivers brilliantly and is without a doubt worth the money. Enjoy picking this apart, playing with drops of water and letting it draw our your smile. You can’t go wrong.
Alexander Pope once wrote “Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”. I shall however keep expecting only the best from Springbank. I know I won’t be disappointed.