SMWS 27.114 (Springbank 30yo)


We're continuing the week with an independently bottled Springbank from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.

SMWS 27.114 (Springbank 30yo)

Region: Campbeltown

ABV: 53.7%

Price: £1,590.00

Distilled on the 23rd of April, 1993, this whisky was initially aged in an ex-bourbon hogshead for 25 years. It was then transferred to a first-fill PX hogshead, before being bottled at 30 years old in 2023. The release yielded a total of 191 bottles.

Nose

Initially, the nose offers marzipan, treacle, warehouse musk, cardamom spice, dark chocolate, raisins, Christmas spices, and red cola. Simply put this is decidedly PX-forward. Time reveals notes of sour plum, cherry compote, and artificial sweeteners. Actually as we sit with it we’re finding it oddly sour. The alcohol is well-balanced, but it is aggressively sherried. There's very little smoke, and few characteristics that would typically suggest it's a Springbank.

Palate

The whisky opens with a fair amount of bitterness, with flavours of charred oak, tannins, and dried wood. Pushing past the initial bitterness and there’s notes of high-percentage cocoa, orange rind, fizzy cola bottles, dried earth, burnt autumn leaves, singed twigs, cloves, and dried ginger. The sweetness that’s present does lingers into a finish that’s a good length, and it does boasts a good, syrupy mouthfeel. However, like the nose it lacks distinct spirit character.

Nose (with water)

With water, the whisky reveals notes of chocolate buttons, coriander and fennel seeds, strawberries, and raspberries. There's also a hint of rancio and sherry vinegar. The reduction has brought out more fresh fruit notes, while reducing the presence of those pre diluted synthetic sweet notes.

Palate (with water)

With reduction, the whisky has an increased sweetness, while also simultaneously becomes spicier. The dram now shows more of the original bourbon cask sweetness. Flavours of orange peel, sugar cubes, summer fruit cordial, vanilla essence, and candied almonds all start to shine through. The finish retains its good length, but is dominated by a sweet chilli spice that outlasts the sweeter notes, and the mouthfeel is now disappointingly thin. Reduced we’d never have guessed the whisky was 30 years old.

Conclusion

We can pretty much sum this whisky up as “Murdered by Wood”. We endeavoured to set aside our preconceptions during this tasting. To be honest, we did anticipate that this release would be overly sweet, yet still enjoyable, albeit potentially lacking in distinct distillery character. We were wrong... but the secondary maturation hasn’t actually imparted as much sweetness as we might have guessed. Instead, it has introduced some intriguing notes that aren’t entirely to our liking.

Score: 6/10

Value

To play devil's advocate, we acknowledge that the society likely acquired this cask with a significant amount of age on it. Being a business, they have a responsibility to maximise profits for their shareholders. We're inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, assuming the cask wasn't initially great and was finished in Sherry to enhance its appeal, allowing them to add 'PX' to the label. This finishing could justify a modest increase in price. However, with all factors considered, £1,590 seems like an exorbitant price. We suspect this was bought alongside 27.113 (What a Song and a Dance), a US exclusive released three years ago at 26 years old for around £630. The sister cask now carries nearly a thousand pounds more in price. While the society is free to set its prices, we question whether the recent pricing strategies consider the long-term impact on their brand equity.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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