"Sherry at the seaside, a storm is coming up blowing seawater, beach sand and the smoke of smouldering bonfires into our face, this is how I like to see my sherried whisky"
(Photo from Whiskybase)
Once or twice a year Springbank releases a cask strength versions, which consists of a mix of spirit that has matured for 12 years in either bourbon or sherry casks. From batch 10 on, the ratio sherry:bourbon casks has been 70:30, which was changed from 60:40, meaning that we can expect the sherry influence to prevail. The subject of today’s review is batch 14, originally released in 2017, while we are currently in 2018 at batch 16. I have heard and read so many positive comments about this series (watch this @Ralfy or read here @Whiskyfun) that my curiousity (and expectation) rose to dangerous levels. I guess what I am trying to say is that I really, really wanted to taste this. So why wait any longer? Maybe one last note beforehand, I definitely like Springbank, but I am also quite scared of the Sulphury Monster that can creep up occasionaly from heavily sherried drams. People have mentioned the S. word in combination with this series. Well, who dares wins.
Sulphur (NO!?), but salty (YES!). The sherry influence is evident from the first moment on, but Springbank’s characterful spirit holds its ground and adds a beautiful saltiness and earthiness. That already makes this so much better compared many other heavily sherried whisky (in my opinion, of course). There is a clear sense of an extinguished bonfire, combined with salty caramel, a mix of salty nuts containing raisins and sultanas, and dried figs that accidently caught fire (ok, who is not paying attention to the barbecue?!). It is powerful, but not overly heavy due to a sort of freshness that runs underneath. I recognise new leather, a beautiful aged Oloroso sherry, and after a while orchard fruits start to make themselves known. A dusty and musty character, which I tend to associate with the usage of proper sherry casks, and notes of caramelised brown sugar and tobacco. The addition of a few drops of water, which this can honestly take, brings out additional hints of honey and soya sauce.
The palate opens with bonfires, followed by leather chairs, coal dust, and sea salt. Again the sherry influence is clear, but it seems we drinking it while the wind blows a spray of sea water into our face. Many salty raisins, nuts and other sherry-associated notes. The addition of water makes it even more coastal, while it also adds liquorice, tobacco, all kinds of roots, beach sand (the wind turns into a storm, apparently), in short more Springbank. I think the palate is slightly less complex, compared to the nose, but we are still at a high level, so who bothers?
My fears were not necessary, the force from Springbank Distillery can handle this kind of sherry power. The right amount of dirtiness, accompanied by notes of fruits, the sea and the earth makes this into a joy to drink. Highly recommended, if you have not already tasted this. It appears that the level of quality is high for each of the batches, although significant differences have been noted. It could be very helpful to look into Whiskybase for the opinions of other tasters and select the right batch (or compared them).
Thanks to for sharing the sample!
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •