Longrow 18yo (2011 release)

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Bottle code 11/181.

Nose:

Fruity, lemons, oranges. Mineral, chalky, After a while waxy with a hint of peat. With water – more floral, mentholy.

Taste:

Sweet, waxy, buttery. Lemon cake. Mineral with well integrated peatiness that doesn’t take over all other notes (as it happens in some of the modern Lagavulins and Laphroaigs). With water – more mineral and salty.

Finish:

Mineral, fruity with a hint of sweet smoke.

Comment:

Maybe lacks a little intensity but overall great whisky. Had a chance to try more recent releases of the Longrow 18yo couple of times, and it’s consistently outclassing most other modern creations from other distilleries.

Score: 91/100

Arran 21yo, 1995/2017, Cadenhead’s for Whisky Shop Berlin

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Well matured Arran from the first year of distillation, bottled by Cadenhead’s for their Berlin Whisky Shop (the one the label doesn’t exist anymore but they’ve opened a new one nearby). I was very lucky to taste it at the shop and after couple of sniffs I immedietly bought a bottle. Suffice to say that this bottling put Arran on my distilleries watch list.

Nose

First thought – this could as well be a blend of a whisky, well aged bourbon and a heavy rum from Trinidad (yes, the one starting with C). There’s the varnished wood notes and saw dust. Then there’s the sweet side of molasses and carmel with a hint of mango, peach and risins. And then finally some apples and lemons in the background.

Taste

Orange candies, honey and spicy notes of menthol, cloves and pepper. Wood is not that prominent as on the nose but you can still find the oak in there. I like it very much. You could make a perfect Clynelish from it by adding some wax and wet limestone.

Finish

Ginger and pepper.

Comments

I can’t figure out what kind of cask this is from. The color would indicate a sherry cask but I really find it more like an active bourbon cask. The label says ‘Cask type: Hogshead’ and Cadenhead’s usually indicates ex-sherry by saying ‘Sherry Hoghshead’ – so again it would point towards ex-bourbon. Yet for some reason people on Whiskybase are clearly describing it as if it was a sherry cask. Well, if it’s an ex-sherry then it’s either very unusual one or my tasting buds are way off.

Anyway, great whisky and the initial price of 99 euro puts it at the top of the quality-to-price ratio of the 2017.

Score: 91/100

Springbank 10yo, 2007/2017, Local Barley

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Third release from a famously reactivated Local Barley series. This time we have a Belgravia barley type and a mix of bourbon and sherry casks (70% / 30%). Even though it’s a 9000 bottles release, none of the bottles makes to the store shelves.

Nose:

Fruity, floral, vegetal with hints of chalk and peat. First these are tropical fruits (sweet side) with a fresh cut grass. With water it’s more like lemonade toned down with a green cucumber (love this combination in a real-world lemonade). And of course it has all the signature Springbanky notes that are so hard to pin down but so obviously recognizable.

Taste:

Oily, slightly creamy. The lemonade got some honey in it, but then it also gets a mineral and medicinal side with chalk and bitter hints of aspirin. I like the oily part. I don’t like the aspirin part.

Finish:

Surprisingly long. Leaves a feeling of a lemon infused sparkling water with a hint of grass and smoke.

Comment:

I have a problem with this whisky. It’s kind of interesting and kind of f complex but I get tired of it after one dram. I’d assume it’s because of the grassy/aspirin notes that I particularly don’t like when presented like this. Other than this personal note I can’t say anything bad about it. It’s a good Springbank and all Springbank lovers will love this one too.

As a whisky nerd I can’t help but wonder what part of the notes is the Belgravia barley responsible for? And also why the hell do they bottle these releases at such a young age?!

Score: 88/100

Springbank 18yo, 46% (2016 release)

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Bottle code 16/332. Date on the bottle says 18.08.16.

Nose:

Complicated combination of different fruits: strawberries, mango, baked apple, canned peach. You can find all these if you really want, but nothing stands out in particular. Eventually you can dig up some fresh green apples. Also some wood, cardboard and chalk. Maybe a hint of smoke, but I’m not sure if I’d notice if I didn’t know Springbank is lightly peated by design.

Taste:

Smoke is more prominent now. Also salt is quite noticable. Mineral water with lemons and dark chocolate. Theres a feeling of soy sauce to it.

Finish:

Quite long. Salted lemons.

Comment:

Very good whisky, but once you had couple of OB Springbanks, this one is quite forgettable. You can see a clear similarity with the 10yo. While 18yo is more focused than it’s younger counterpart it offers only little more pleasure and complexity.

Score: 89/100

Springbank 12yo Cask Strength, 54.2% (batch 14)

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Bottled in early 2017. Bottle code 17/10.

One of the previous batches pointed my attention towards Springbank and made it one of my favorite distilleries. The differences between batches can be quite big though, so it’s not sure this one’s as good.

Nose:

Cream sherry, salt and peat. Baked apples, plums (a lot of plums) and a few other red fruits that I’m unable to identify. With water: more cream, more toffee sweetness, and a little earthiness.

Taste:

Fruits: plums, strawberries, apples. Mineral and earthy notes (black tea). Also salty with a hint of peat. With water becomes little more oily/buttery. Also more salty and sour.

Finish:

Long. Salted toffee with peat smoke and tea.

Comment:

Completely different experience than the 10yo. More sherried and intense. The creaminess is getting little tiring after some time (just like too much vanilla in some ex-bourbon whiskies). In the end I think it provides the same level of pleasure as the orange 10yo and it all comes down to a personal preference or mood.

Score: 88/100

 

Springbank 21yo (70’s, pear shaped bottle)

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Pear shaped bottle Springbank. Experts say it’s from the 70’s, so the distillate is from the 50’s, so it’ll be something interesting.

Nose:

Wood varnish with a hint of glue (doesn’t sound good but it actually is). Some candle wax and wet plaster like in a good Clynelish. After couple of minuts some fruits come out – lemons and lemon peels mostly. Also a hint of dusty old books and leather. ┬áThis is great.

Taste:

Lemon juice with ginger. Lemon peels. Has a weird texture of a fuzzy mineral water. Again a hint of a modern-clynelishean candle wax and a wet plaster, but toned down a notch. I like it.

Finish:

Short. Lemon. Grass. Disappointing.

Comment:

I really, really like it. The nose hits all the right notes for me and if I tasted it blindly I’d say it was a Clynelish. Which is a suprise for me, as I didn’t expect Springbank to be like this. One problem is that, in this cask strength era, the taste is a little watered down. And the second problem is the short, grassy (a little) finish. I’d really like to give it more, but this time it’s “only” 90.

Score: 90/100

 

 

Springbank 10yo (early 2017 release)

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Latest 2017 release with a new screaming orange packaging. It will effectively break any easthetics of your whisky collection display setup, bimg_20170205_150714ut I can see a joint marketing opportunity with Porsche here.

Edit: The bottle code is unreadable, but the bottling date says 2x.12.16.

Nose:

Floral, fruity and peaty with an underlying sea-spray saltiness. Vanilla, honey, toffe. Mint and some other herbs I can’t name. Wood smoke and peat on a noticable but not overly distracting level. Also candied, salted and waxed fruits. Everything nicely balanced. Not sure I like the menthol part but otherwise it gives you something to stop and think for a while.

Taste:

Oily, salty and sauer with slight grassiness. Lemons, minerals, smoke and a hint of sherry influence. Adding water makes the grass and salt more apparent, which I don’t like very much (the grass part). I’d say the water doesn’t do any good in case of this Springbank.

Finish:

Long. Salted fruits, smoke and grass.

Comment:

Awesome entry level whisky that also has a lot to offer to a seasoned whisky drinker. It’s all rounded and has just the right balance between the different notes – sweet, sour, salty and peat – while still preserving Springbank’s uniqueness (this last statement might also mean that some people will don’t like it). This hint of grassiness is bothering me a little, but I’ve never heard other people complain about it, so maybe it’s just me.

Slightly better than Kilkerran 12yo – both of which present great (if not the best) value for money in today’s market. And both bear their age statements proudly.

Score: 88/100