Whisky: Springbank 12yo Cask Strength 55.9% (2021)
Remember the good old days, a few years back when you could wander into your local whisky retailer and pick up a bottle of Springbank without any issues? Now the process of buying a bottle of Springbank at RRP has become so difficult that you’d have an easier time finding a needle in a haystack.
Anyone who has gotten into whisky recently would be forgiven for not believing us when we say that we can remember picking up a couple of bottles of Springbank cask strength, only a few years back from the same retailer! Fast forward in time to now, one of the only ways you can pick up multiple bottles of cask strength Springbank from the same shop is if you’re will to pay the inflated prices some greedy shops have decided to charge.
Of course, as hard as it has become to get a bottle from a brick and mortar store it pales in comparison to the difficulty of getting one online. The sad truth is these “unicorn bottles” are only available online for a few minutes, quite often even less than this, for 60 seconds or less. For a fan of whisky is there anything worse than that dreaded “payment failed” notification you get when a bottle goes out of stock right at the very moment your payment is processed and you start imagining when and where you’re going to take your first sip of the that delicious elixir. That of course is making the assumption that the bottle(s) weren’t out of stock by the time you made it to the site in the first place.
The entire process of trying to buy whisky whether it be in a shop or online (as painful a process as that may be) would be made more palatable if you didn’t see hundreds of bottles on auction sites immediately after release, but unfortunately, flippers on the secondary market who used to be a problem exclusive to trainers have now infested the whisky industry, making it big business arguably as big as the primary market itself.
Now, we don’t want to be relentlessly negative, and to that end I’ll take a second to highlight an online retailer/brick and mortar shop who are really doing their best to get whisky into the hand of whisky fans. Royal Mile Whiskies who have a policy in place where they price selected new releases at a nominal fixed amount above the recommended retail price. Now if you agree to open the bottle in the shop or in the case of online sales have your name and order number written on the bottle, Royal Mile Whiskies will give you a voucher for double the extra you paid.
For the recent round of Springbank releases they went a step farther and limited customers to buying one Springbank/Kilkerran product each. So next time you’re looking to get a new bottle which if you’re anything like us will probably be tomorrow, can we suggest you take your business to Royal Mile Whiskies who clearly are a retailer trying to do the right thing and as such in our opinion they deserve more support.
Enough about the process of buying whisky, let us move on to giving you the inside scoop on our latest purchase. We were extremely lucky, and as the stars aligned we managed to nab a single bottle of Springbank 12yo cask strength, at RRP from the Cadenheads shop in Edinburgh. Avoiding the temptation to hoard the bottle for ourselves, we instead chose to open it, share it with good-friends, and let those of you unable to grab a bottle know if you’re missing out.
So a little bit about the whisky:
Well just incase you needed another reason to like Springbank, it’s worth noting this is also the first 12yo cask strength release to ship without a cardboard box. The box having been dropped as part of Springbank’s attempts to be more environmentally friendly, a clear nod to how progressive the distillery is. The latest release was matured in 100% ex-bourbon casks then bottled at the natural cask strength of 55.9% ABV. This is a departure from previous releases over the last few years as these have had a good proportion of sherry casks included in the mix, and occasionally some port casks.
Opens with grapefruit, blood orange peel, sea salt, brown sugar, citrus, cream, and light smoke in the background. Give it a few minutes and a little air you get toffee and sweet cinnamon stick popuri.
We’re getting pineapple, Turkish delight, lemon, toffee apple, and wax. There’s a smoke here that reminds us of wood burner smoke. The finish is long with red chilli spices lingering on the palate.
Nose (with water)
Water really brings the smoke to the forefront it’s more like nosing a bonfire now. Once you get past the smoke there’s Quality Street strawberry chocolate, Sweet gooey caramel, toffee sundae, and brown sugar.
Palate (with water)
The wood burner smoke has become more prominent and intensified. While the citrus and apple notes have moved to the back. The water has also brought out a touch of root ginger. The finish is quite spicy with a prolonged ginger and cinnamon note that lingers on the palate.
Well, it doesn’t disappoint and will probably come as no surprise that we consider it a tasty bottle. That after all was a forgone conclusion as it is Springbank and their releases are consistently made to a good standard. We would note though, as good a dram as this is that it does fall short of the previous release (50% bourbon and 50% sherry). Would we recommend you buy a bottle if you can get it for RRP? definitely, but if you’re looking to the auctions for your latest bottle of Springbank then we’d suggest going for one of the earlier cask strength releases which arguably are better.
Now, when tasting this we couldn’t help but pick out the similarities between this bottle and the most recent batch of Ardnamurchan AD/07.21:05, retailing at a similar price point. So, if you want an interesting and tasty bottle which has similar characteristics to this one without having to line the flippers pockets, then we’d suggest picking up the Ardnamurchan instead.
- 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.
Did you manage to get a bottle of the new cask strength 12yo? Have you tried it yet, or do you want to share your story of missing out on the bottle? Feel free to use the comments section below. If you’d like to be updated when we add a new review check out our social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) for updates.
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