Springbank 18 (2023 Release) & Springbank 21 (2023 Release)


August usually marks a new release from Springbank, and this year is no exception. We're looking at the 2023 releases of Springbank 18 and 21 in todays reviews.

Springbank 18 (2023 Release)

Region: Campbeltown

ABV: 46.0%

Price: £110.00

The 2023 release of Springbank 18 is a mixture of 65% sherry, 20% bourbon and 15% rum casks.

Nose

The nose opens with smoked red fruits, cranberries, strawberries, cherries in abundance. The sherry is quite prominent, but in a sweeter, creamier way. There’s some sea salt, wet rope and pebbles appearing, alongside wet earth and brambles. There’s a nice undertone of Springbank peat here that’s both quite noticeable but well integrated with the other aromas.

Palate

The palate opens with more of those red fruits, cranberries and blackcurrant dominating, with a hefty earthy undertone of freshly turned soil and dark chocolate. The mouthfeel is a touch lacking, it feels just a bit thinner than we’d expect, but the finish does seem to last a good while, with digestive biscuits and spent coffee grounds - relatively bitter but not in an acrid way. There’s also a hint of zingy citrus as we go back, but that moves into those richer chocolate, coffee notes with a bit of smoke that lingers on too. There’s still a good icing sugar sweetness that stays constant as the dram develops.

Nose (with water)

Reduction brings out a nuttier sherry character, toasted almonds, hazelnuts and a bit more of that chocolate character that we experienced on the palate. There's still a good amount of red fruit, salty sea air and smoke, although the intensity of the peat has diminished.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate shows creamy vanilla, and weirdly seems to improve the mouthfeel a little. We’re also finding lime cordial, caramel shortcake and more coffee, but reminiscent of a watered down espresso shot. There’s still an interesting minerality that sits on the background too.

Conclusion

This years 18 has such a beautiful nose, but falls a little short on the palate. Lots of sherry character that balances well with the Springbank spirit without overpowering it and turning it into a sherry bomb. The mouthfeel is unfortunately too thin, but it does have a better finish than last years release. Still a great quality dram, probably just trumps last years release for us but it’s quite similar overall.

Score: 8/10

Value

Springbank 18yo is significantly cheaper than most of its rivals offerings. It’s just a shame it’s so hard to get.


Springbank 21 (2023 Release)

Region: Campbeltown

ABV: 46.0%

Price: £260.00

The 2023 release of Springbank 21 is a mixture of 45% bourbon, 20% sherry, 20% rum and 15% port casks.

Nose

The nose opens with salty sea air, caramel, white pepper, honeycomb, candy floss, wood shavings and toasted white bread. There is a mellow, almost non-existent peatsmoke in the background. It’s a really pleasant nose, time and air brings out a nuttiness, hazelnut, almond and light citrus. There’s some red fruit but it’s far away in the background.

Palate

The palate has… a whack of sulphur, burnt coffee, dark chocolate and dry earth. It feels a bit disjointed, there’s not really a specific profile that it’s fitting into. The mouthfeel is decent, and the finish is fine, but we’re not loving the dirty, earthy bitter flavours that accompany it. There’s more smoke appearing on the palate than the nose. Time and air reveals sour apples, overripe banana and a little bit of cherry jam.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose has a little bit more peat appearing, saltwater, burnt honey, a little bit of rubber too. Otherwise it’s not too dissimilar to the unreduced nose.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate has a bit more sherry influence, dark fruits, but then morphs quickly into the sulphury bitter flavours we experienced before. The mouthfeel and finish remain the same, with a touch of zesty citrus added in.

Conclusion

What happened? This is massively disappointing. The nose is lovely, classic Campeltown, but the palate is just off. Disjointed, sulphury, bitter. We feel weird writing this on a Springbank review but I guess you can’t win them all.

Score: 6/10

Value

It’s a pretty big leap between the 18yo and the 21yo, but with such a small output we can’t judge Springbank for charging the price they do.

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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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