Ending the week with a big one, the 2nd release from the Springbank 10 year old sherry wood series.
Springbank 10yo Palo Cortado (Sherry Wood 2023 release)
This, for the (three-ish) people who are unaware, is the 2nd in a five-part sherry series from the distillery. It was distilled in July 2013 and initially matured for six years in refill bourbon barrels before being transferred to and matured for a further four years in fresh Palo Cortado hogsheads made from American oak. Finally, it was bottled in September 2023; just 10,200 bottles were made available.
For those interested, all the releases in this series will be 10 years old. Last year's bottling spent seven years in refill bourbon barrels before a three-year in fresh Pedro Ximénez sherry hogsheads. The next release will have been in bourbon for five years before being transferred to Amontillado casks for a five-year finishing period. The fourth release will have been in bourbon for four years before a six-year finish in Fino wood. The final release will have spent three years in bourbon and seven in Manzanilla casks.
The nose opens with strawberries and cream, saltwater, violets, dirty dunnage warehouse floors and butter biscuits. We’re very impressed with the alcohol integration, there’s very little peppery alcohol spice for the ABV, it masquerades in more of a musty, slightly zesty sensation. The palo cortado influence is definitely there in places, but it’s fairly bourbon cask forward in our opinion. We’re also finding fizzy cola bottles and something a little herbal in the background.
The palate begins with a fair bit of salinity mixed with toffee, dark chocolate and raspberry jam. There’s much more of the sherry cask influence coming through, more red fruits, strawberries, currants and baked apples. The texture is pretty good, it’s got a silky mouthfeel, with a finish that has more of a cinnamon and clove woodiness. It’s not overly sweet, it’s drier than expected. We’re finding it to have more of a spicy type of sherry maturation, although the alcohol is still in good balance and the spice works nicely with the other flavours coming through. The smoke is very mellow, reminding us of log burning stoves and vegetal peat fumes.
Nose (with water)
The reduced nose brings out a lot more fruit and nut aromas, we’re getting plum, cherry jam, a little fig too, alongside walnuts and candied almonds, It’s become a lot more vibrant, at the loss of some of the earthier, muddier notes we perceived previously. Much more sherry influence, we can’t complain.
Palate (with water)
The reduced palate has stolen some of those lost earth and dirt notes that were missing from the reduced nose, bringing those to the forefront before getting some creamy vanilla sweetness appearing on the finish. The alcohol stays in balance, although there’s a little bit of younger spirit character right at the end of the palate.
A clear Campeltown malt that hasn’t allowed the additional sherry maturation to cover up the Springbank distillate. It’s well balanced, with the mix of bourbon cask and sherry casks playing well together. Not overly sweet, most of the sweetness seems to come from the initial bourbon casks, before the drier, nutter palo cortado is layered on top. We can’t really complain, super tasty dram, we just hope most of the bottles get opened rather than sitting in a dusty cupboard for 40 years.
If we're being honest, it's a little pricey for a 10-year-old when compared to the distillery's other offerings. However, we must admit that the likelihood of most of us getting this for under £90 is slim. Personally, if offered a bottle for £90, it would be a no-brainer. That said, while it is good, it's definitely not worth the auction prices.
- 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.