We're ending our week of Campbeltown reviews with the 2023 release of Springbank 25, alongside a bonus 10yo refill bourbon cage bottle.
Springbank 25 (2023 Release)
This year’s release is combination of 50% refill bourbon casks and 50% refill sherry casks. There were only 1,400 bottles released.
The dram opens with a mixture of citrus, salt and honey. Freshly squeezed lemon juice, salted caramel sauce, refrigerated sponge cake that's just been taken out, vanilla fondant icing and a hint of gooseberry. It's fresh and vibrant, whilst still maintaining a richness that appears the longer you keep your nose in the glass. Time and air reveals more of a maritime quality, wet rope, petrichor, along with dried mango pieces and a hint of pineapple too. The alcohol is so well balanced, it provides a nice backbone whilst being mellow enough for you to get deep into the glass. Lovely.
The palate begins with a mixture of sweet and sour, sherbet, pineapple, apple cider vinegar, moving into richer chocolate, freshly turned earth, sweet oak, spent coffee grounds, burnt fudge and wisps of campfire smoke. The dram has a good length finish primarily showing dark chocolate, Maldon sea salt, toffee and mellow peat. The mouthfeel is fine, not particularly oily or textured but it has enough depth and complexity for us to overlook this.
Nose (with water)
We're finding more salinity now, mixed in with caster sugar, candied almonds, creamy vanilla and a little biscuit aroma in the background. It's also got a bit more earth and wood appearing now, with the peat showing more prominently too. We've lost some of those fresher, zingier aromas that gave the dram some vibrancy.
Palate (with water)
The reduced palate still comes through with the acidity to begin, but a lot of the sweetness is lost. It moves quickly onto woodier, oak-led flavours alongside cloves, charred twigs, walnuts and mint leaves towards the finish. The peat is much more pronounced too, overtaking some of the subtleties of the palate and bringing a bolder, brasher profile to the whisky. For us, we don't think it needs any water at all.
An incredible nose, one that rewards time and patience, with a comparable palate that evolves as the whisky passes across your tongue. It manages to hit so many different flavours and aromas whilst still making sense. Our biggest criticism is the mouthfeel, it's pretty thin, but it doesn't ruin our enjoyment of the dram too much. We think it's better than last year's 25 year old, and are giving it an 8/10.
Springbank Cage Bottle (10yo Warehouse 6 Refill Bourbon rotation 753)
We generally avoid reviewing these “cage bottles” as so few people can get their hands on any of these now, but a sample of this was available to us and we couldn’t pass it up.
We're finding big, bold vanilla and oak aromas initially, musty warehouses, freshly sanded wood planks, creme patissiere, lime pickle and well integrated alcohol, no burn on the nose even when inhaling deeply. Air brings out candyfloss, lychee, fresh tropical fruits and a touch of salt giving the dram another layer. There's detectable smoke on the nose, but it's light and melds into the sweet vanilla aromas quite well.
The palate is oily and mouth coating, it's the first thing you notice, before it moves into lemon posset, shortbread dusted in sugar, cereals, a hint of cinnamon bark and caramel. There's a bit of pepperiness coming through, more like pickled green peppercorns, alongside honey and fudge. The finish is long, quite punchy with dry oak, whipped cream and crunchy dried corn.
Nose (with water)
The reduced nose has much more salt, salted potato crisps, sandy beaches, vanilla custard, wet pebbles and sugar cookies. It's less fruity, however more peat and bourbon cask aromas punch through.
Palate (with water)
The reduced palate begins very sweet, those sugar cookies from the reduced nose are right at the forefront, following into a drizzle of vanilla icing and warm oak. It feels a little less complex, however any form of pepperiness or spice has disappeared and it's a little too quaffable. The mouthfeel and finish remain the same, however there's a bit more dry, woody oak towards the end of the palate.
It's a pleasure to try single cask Springbank in refill bourbon, it really lets the quality of the distillate shine through. The balance on this dram is very impressive, especially at the close-to-60% ABV. We'd perhaps criticise the finish for being a little too woody and bitter at points, but that's us really nitpicking. We love sherried Springers but this is clean and delicious. It's close to an 8.5, but we'll go with an 8/10.
- 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.