Color/Appearance: Natural sherry cask warmth all over this one. Redish liquid gold. It’s a mix of fresh sherry and refill sherry casks. Being Springbank there is no chill-filtration or colorant added. Plus with all aspects of production handled in-house you are looking at a product that is made the right way. A simple bottle, but just seeing it gets me excited. Kind of geeky but if you enjoy Springbank as I do, you know what I mean.
Nose: Springbank ahhhh, so distinctive on the nose. Sea breeze with soot, brine and peat. A smoky toastyness. I can smell the leaves burning in the yard while I stand in the hundred year old barn with wooden boxes of old motor oil and some dusty steamer trunks. Then as it opens up, apricots, wet slate, grape skin tannins, lime and ginger appear.
Palate: Here is where the sherry notes come into play. The peat is rounded with plum, raisin, fig compote and pear cobbler. Sweet malted barley balanced with fresh lively fruit; apricots, lime and pineapple. Then ginger, black pepper, furniture polish and ten day old ash blowing in the wind, finish out the profile. Hiking along the rugged rocky coast you wipe the salty mist from your forehead. Your walking stick makes a unexpected sound as it plunges into a small grassy depression. As you move the thick grass away you discover an aged whisky barrel. As the liquid hits your lips the sun peaks through the clouds and a smile spreads across your face.
Finish: Savory, fruity and coastal tang hanging around, then ending with a wisp of dry smoke. So smooth I keep forgetting its cask-strength. Though at just above 50% we are very close to normal strength. Since this recent release is at such a lower proof I wonder if it stacks up to older editions. I would love to see what a little more strength could do. Ramping up this profile would serve this expression well.
Overall: I find myself falling in love with Springbank. I like the less modern profile and their adherence to traditional ways. This dram has it all, coastal rough elements, distinctive house style, light peat adding balance and depth, fresh fruity notes and then some classy rich flavors that come from the sherry casks. Take your time with this one, exploring how it evolves in the glass. Each time I drink some I find myself liking it more. With some other more one dimensional malts the opposite happens, where at first its singular charms entice you but over time its simple melody can become rote. I do enjoy this 12 year old expression but find that I like the 15 year old a little more. Here the sherry effect is muted leading to a little less overall balance. Still a masterful coastal dram and one that I will certainly look to acquire again as soon as another batch comes out.