Springbank 12 Cask Strength (Batch 24 - 2023 Release) & Longrow 13 Refill Port (2018 Online Tasting Week)


As the 2023 Campbeltown Malts festival kicks off, we take a look at this years 12 year old cask strength release alongside a historical Longrow release (available to try at the Washback bar in Campeltown if you're around).

Springbank 12 Cask Strength (Batch 24 - 2023 Release)

Region: Campbeltown

ABV: 54.1%

Price: £65.00

The long awaited 2023 release of Springbank 12 cask strength was matured in a mixture of bourbon casks (60%) and Sherry (40%). We have no idea how many bottles were released, but can confirm whatever the number it wasn’t enough.

Nose

We're getting lemon sherbet, oyster sauce, caramel drizzle, warehouse must and fresh green apple. It’s got a really nice thick and oily nose, with sultanas and currants reminding us of a Christmas cake. Behind this, there’s a coastal, saltiness, with light wisps of peat that come and go as you nose the dram. The alcohol is present, but not overpowering, with a touch of fresh ginger that’s been puréed, as well as a bit of cinnamon spice too.

Palate

The palate begins with an oily, viscous texture, caramel shortcake, chocolate digestives, log fires, freshly zested lime and a bit of whipped cream too. It’s a touch hot in places, black pepper spice being quite apparent as the spirit sits on your tongue. We’re also getting sponge fingers, raisins, molasses and mellow yet structured peat smoke leading into a long, classical Campbeltown finish with salted caramel and walnuts. Time and air reveals some ginger cake, wet rope and dry tobacco leaves.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose brings out more of the creamy bourbon cask aromas, vanilla, custard, milk chocolate and slightly stale brioche bread. It’s mellowed a bit, but maintained that thick sensation on the nose. We’re also finding more of a mustiness as well, wet oak and moss.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate brings out a lot of synthetic sugar, candy floss, apple crumble and cinnamon sugar. There’s also a bit of dark, bitter chocolate (or maybe bitter coffee) appearing, alongside a punchier hit of peat smoke. It loses a bit of its texture, but maintains a good length, salty and sweet finish. We’d probably avoid adding water as it hasn’t really improved the experience, and it’s perfectly drinkable at its natural strength.

Conclusion

This is bloody lovely. Probably our favourite 12CS release from the last 5 or so years. It’s very well balanced, great mixture of sherry and bourbon without one overpowering the other. The texture is great, finish is good, just really well made whisky. Our only minor criticism is a bit too much alcohol spice on the palate, but we’re nitpicking. At £65 (if you can get a bottle at this price), it has to be a 9/10.

Score: 9/10


Longrow 13 Refill Port (2018 Online Tasting Week)

Region: Campbeltown

ABV: 58.7%

Price: £160.00 (Auction)

Distilled February 2005, this release spent 13 years in refill port casks, before being bottled 24th May 2018. 1,096 bottles were released.

Nose

It's earthy, dirty with a fair bit of sea salt, and lemsip with a bit of fresh ginger juice in it. We’re also getting candied orange slices, roasted malt and chocolate cake with a dark fruit jam. It has very well balanced alcohol, a hint of pepper but overall very inviting. Air brings out a bit more icing sugar sweetness.

Palate

The palate begins with a big hit of peat, red berries, grape must, blackcurrant cordial and a bit of chocolate too... that moves into richer, darker chocolate as the dram develops. There’s also a bit of chili heat here, we’re getting much more of the alcohol spice coming through compared to the nose. We’re also finding some engine oil and tobacco. The mouthfeel is nice, and the finish lingers on for a good while.

Nose (with water)

We’re getting less peat, and an addition of a meaty, beef like aroma. There’s also more blackcurrant coming through, like Ribena. The mustiness of the dram is also a little more apparent, but the whisky maintains its nice balance.

Palate (with water)

Some of the chili heat we got before has mellowed, and we’re getting some roasted, salted peanuts. There however is a bit more spice on the latter part of the finish, a prickly sensation that lingers on. There’s still nice sweetness and lots of peat.

Conclusion

The refill port has done quite a lot here, more than expected, but the dram maintains the classic Longrow character. It’s a touch spicy in places, but overall it’s well balanced and super drinkable. We’re reviewing this about 5 years after it was released, so it’s difficult to rate based on RRP, however it’s sitting around £160 on auction which isn’t a bad price at all. We’ll go with 8/10.

Score: 8/10

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  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

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