It took us a week and more to recover from the Spirit of Scotland’s revelry. During that weekend we met old and new friends, we chatted (a little, unfortunately) with many enthusiasts and insiders, we tasted enchanting things and also an oriental distillate smelling like dirty feet; but above all we poured a lot, a lot of whisky. From the privileged observatory of the Beija-Flor banquet, we must point out that Springbank was absolutely the distillery that most intrigued the visitors of the festival; something that pleases us, because Springbank’s is a malt that is anything but ‘easy’, ‘modern’ or ‘crowd pleasing’ – and therefore the public refines the taste: very well. One of the most successful bottlings was the last batch (the #10) of 12-year-old Cask Strength, i.e. full grade: today we’re tasting its first version, batch #1 released in 2010 at 54,6%.
N: nice and dirty, almost meaty, certainly very mineral and not at all friendly. We smell notes of leather, very intense (and frankly, not exciting); then slowly the damp earth comes out, an acrid hint of peat (even a slight smoke – but ‘salty’, like smoked provola cheese); brine (just olives / capers). It’s also malty and at times it may seem younger than its age, because of these notes so exhibited. With time it opens up a lot: it certainly needs air and patience; in fact, a beautiful ‘sweetness-Springbank’ emerges, made of cooked fruit (plums, apples – a bit acidic, let’s say cold cooked fruit) and maybe a hint of pastry (plumcake?).
P: much more expressive right from the start: indeed, we would say it’s excellent! It’s Springbank to the bone, but it displays a panicky intensity and a really splendid range of flavours. There’s still a nice stewed fruit (apples and plums), but also a hot, freshly cooked orange marmalade; a few notes of brown sugar, even honey… But the ‘dirty face’ hasn’t faded away, with nice ‘meaty’, mineral, fermenting malt tips, a bit salty… Then spices: nutmeg and pepper. Very good, very complex, great!
F: long and intense: black pepper on a carpet of warm toffee and bitter honey. Licorice.
At the beginning, the nose was really ‘closed’, and the ex-sherry component, certainly present, combined with the typical minerality of Springbank, made the landscape perhaps too difficult; when it opens, however, it becomes really delicious, and its complexity seems really worthy of intense meditation. 88/100 is the verdict: we’re starting well, don’t we?
Recommended soundtrack: a bit of hallucinations for everyone with Can – Vitamin C.