Thursday, 28 November 2019

Springbank 18, September 2019

Springbank 18 years old, September 2019, 46% A

Nose - Off dry, dusty with balsa wood, sweet slightly medicinal talc, some kind of other bathroom note, maybe teenager's deodorant.  An ethereal, slightly petrolly fruit.
Body - Soft tannins, felt, clove and black cardamom.  Subtle, hot and slightly burnt spices.
Finish - More cloves, quite long with more burnt wood and wine.


A soft, complex and quite spicy old SB, full of old lacquered wood and Campbeltown but quite a challenging and singular expression given its strength, it's multi-cask and core range.  It is, of course, extremely delicious, with remarkable, dirty fruit.

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Old Springbanks

Claxton Whisky, Springbank 22 years old, 55% A+
10.05.1996, bourbon hogs head
Nose - Men’s perfume, warm apple juice, black sesame cake with gentle refreshers and something like fairy liquid-warm laundry or a hair drier on shampooed hair.  Perfumed, then.  But of course meaty and perfectly Campbeltown.  
Body - Very elegant, dusty and perfumed again, absolutely delicious with fizzing vanilla and sparklers, ethereal but well earthed.  Very well judged.
Finish - Medium with Christmas oranges, sherbet dib dabs, banana foam sweets, licked perfume and pepper on the lips.  Very citrusy at the end, with old varnish and lots of wood oils.

An otherworldly old Springer - but fizzing and peppery too, plenty of Campbeltown still in it.  22 in Campbeltown is like 42 elsewhere, but the peat is still 22 years old.  It’s a wonderful whisky, anyway.

Springbank 24 years old, official bottling A+’
A million thanks to Ronnie for a sample on this!
Nose - Dank and fruity, overripe apples and raisins.  Extremely sweet and very (if dirtily and softly) sherried.  Underneath; old, damp wood, black and soft, with blackcurrants, Victoria sponge, whistle pops.
Body - Wow… ethereal but so much darker - cloves, black fruits (berries, plums), bandages and retronasal fireworks (literally not metaphorically).  
Finish - Very long and really quite medicinal, with lots of fizzing fruit, clove, iodine and an undercurrent of Campbeltown damp peat.  
This is 11/10 on the interesting and 7/10 on challenging, but the real trick is 9/10 on luxurious and delicious.

What a cask.  I love the black fruit and cloves, the fizzing, medicinal woods, and the very long, balanced and fascinating finish.  Very good indeed.

Springbank 1973 CA, Rum Cask 57.5% A
Nose - blimey.  Dusty with sour fruits, gunpowder and something inbetween travel sweets and cough candy.  Very clean and fresh, but somehow sourly dirty and medicinal, with engine oil and cherry tunes deep in the sinuses.
Body - Coal dust, sweetshop fruits, burnt tannins, clove chocolate and fried red chilli.  Pure Springbank too, pure Campbeltown dust.
Finish - Extremely long, with damp burnt wood, balsa, carbon paper, slightly rotten apples and liquorice.  

Extremely special, a perfect expression of old Campbeltown and bottled at only 18 and full strength, really hooks you in by the hind brain.  Thank you so much for this sample Ian, and double thanks to Alan who gave him the sample!  I'm going to spend the next hour finishing it.

SMWS 58.31, Strathisla, Berried alive

30th March 2006, 244 bottles, After spending 10 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead this was transferred to a 2nd fill chenin blanc barrique for the remainder of its maturation.

Nose - Sweet, frosted whistle pops, Rainbow Drops, deodorant, shaving gel, wax polish and a little chinkiang black vinegar.  It's creamier and more relaxing than I'm making it sound though, waxed warm wood and off-sweet fruits.  More complex woods with water, brings me memories of hot summer nights in Greville street working through an outturn.
Body - Soft then a little spicy with quite robust tannins and harder boiled sweets.  Some apple pips and black tea, quite spicy spirits.  Fruitier and softer with water.
Finish - Medium to long, peppery woods and just faint echoes of the waxes and fruits in the nose.  


This wine cask is reasonably active on second fill, giving quite a lot of hard oak notes in the delivery alongside the luxurious fruits at the front.  A robust second or third dram of the night and can take a few drops of water well.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

SMWS 28.42, Tullibardine, Zesty, sherbety, sweet and sour

7th June 2007, 204 bottles, first fill bourbon

Nose - Gentle and waxy, creamy with classy new carpet, maybe a little new car.  A really warm, lovely nose, with midget gems and just a little gunpowder.
Body - As expected from the nose, full of sweet shop and sherbet, not oversweet though, a lovely warm midrange full of waxes and sawdust.  Clumsier with water (more angular, bitter) but more floral, more wood.
Finish - Medium and hot, with fresh laundry and a little leather belt.  Some chilli with water, spicier woods.


A solid little drammer, definite bar material - if perhaps a little spicy in the end.

Monday, 23 September 2019

SMWS 41.115, Dailuaine, Scottish lemon preservation society

9th April 2008, 211 bottles, refill bourbon

Nose - Preserved lemons leap out of the glass, but they were just auto-suggested.  Then lemon sherbets, the dib-dabber and a glassy boiled sweet sweetness.  There's a recently dried paint acrylic texture to it too.
Body - Lemon curd and marmalade, with an astringent but biscuity development.  More lemon sherbets and some strawberry lace after (recall that strawberry laces taste mainly of plastic).  Sweeter and creamier with water, a much more gentle experience.
Finish - Long and astringent, fizzing with alcohol and burnt orange marmalade, and perhaps a little lime marmalade too.  Some plywood at the end.


This is a little cracker, but only if you like them light and fragrant.  

Monday, 2 September 2019

SMWS The Gathering pack


This week SMWS are opening up the Vaults for various celebrations and you can buy a tasting pack to join in.



9th June 2004, 188 bottles, refill bourbon
Nose - Perfume (some musk) with a kind of latex, lacquered feel to it - a balloon and a greased tube.  Also mineral and slightly austere - dried orange peel and cold granite.
Body - Beautifully clean and jewelled, exactly the kind of "young" (obviously it isn't that young) bourbon cask you can get into a bottle of.  A good balance of sweet and mineral.
Finish - Clean, with bitter pith and long orange oils.


The austere nose gives way to a delicious young drinker.  Very good.

5th March 2008, 218 bottles, refill bourbon

Nose - Waxy, medicinal cream, a lowlandery floral peachiness with quite hard minerals and brown sugar.  Softer, warmer with water. 
Body - Soft, really quite sweet and creamy again, gentle white fruit and milk bottle sweets.  Richer and peachier with water, but a bitterness is building.
Finish - A fizzing bitterness against buttercream and royal icing.  Very long sugars to the end.


Chuggable bar fodder, the cream and white fruits in the nose and initial delivery is quite classy and very satisfying to drink.

27th October 1995, 202 bottles, refill bourbon

Nose - Clear and shiny, elegantly fruited.  Then some kind of spirity cardboard - light boiled sweets and a beguiling, sort of dirty musk.  You need to dig but it's quite old school underneath the spirit.
Body - Sweet and perfumed, icing sugar sweet actually, with Nice biscuits and praline.
Finish - Medium and coldly, dustily sweet.  Plasterboard and liquorice allsorts.


Far too sweet for me, the simple sugars riding all over the background mature spirit.  


4th April 2011, 524 bottles, 5 years in ex-bourbon hogshead then second-fill toasted oak butt.

Nose - Sweet, simple and winey, with bourbon soaked raisins, chocolate brazils and caramelised orange slices.
Body - An excellently played big casking for a young whisky, this is one of the good ones, with bright, woodsy fruits, very red in character with strawberry laces and chewed liquorice root.
Finish - Medium, the wood against the sugars works.  Water adds cake to the whole thing, but brings ringing tannins.


I really feared for this but the spirit works well with the big wood flavours.  Fans of the Rocktown bourbons we had will love this.

27th November 2008, 1st fill bourbon

Nose - You won't be disappointed nosing this.  Classic Islay, dirty and old school with that slightly plasticky weirdness Ardbeg has sometimes.  It's musky, with burnt electronics and almost a drain on a hot summer day.  In a good way :)
Body - Soft, then sour and sweetly peated with a bright herbal character - mint, rosemary.  Water turns up the burnt peat and liquorice.
Finish - Short, with Kendal mint cake and Pret carrot cake.


This one is a proper cracker.  It's been too long since I've had single cask Ardbeg.

Monday, 19 August 2019

SMWS 36.155, Marmalade in a nutshell

15th August 1997, 185 bottles, refill bourbon

Nose - Fresh, bright and jewelled.  The clean, sweetshoppy fruitiness you'd expect from Benrinnes, with dusty wood adding gravitas and complexity.  I'd go whistlepops rather than marmalade, perhaps a little wham bar. Wood and flower stalks with water.
Body - Wonderfully creamy, balanced boiled sweets and a musky, dulche de leche caramel midrange.  Creamier and woodier with water, almost clotted cream.
Finish - Long, with sesame snaps and black pepper crisps. 

A lovely, fruity but considered drinker and nicely balanced.