Monday, November 9, 2015

Always Searching for CS Springbanks

If there's any one whisky maker I love over all others, at least at this point in my whisky experience, it's definitely Springbank. I particularly have a thing for their 12-Year Cask Strength expression.

In Tokyo, you can always get your hands on a bottle of 10, 15, and 18-Year aged Springbanks, but the 12-Year, being produced in quite limited quantities every year, tends to be elusive. There are even a few bottles of the 2015 version of the 21-year-old expression and a 25-year old from 2014 floating around, but I spent half of this year dreading the day when a customer at the bar ordered the last shot in the only bottle of 12-Year C.S. I had. And, two weeks ago, the bottle finally got down to its last dram. Knowing I was unlikely to get a replacement bottle to avoid completely running out, my heart grew heavy. However, I resolved to visit the only bottle shop in town I knew of that had gotten in any Springbank 12 this year.

Imagine my relief (and surprise) when I got there and saw not only two bottles of 12-Year C.S., but also two bottles of a Springbank I'd never seen before, Vintage 1997. A quick online check (we live in an amazing age, I tells ya - smartphones aren't just for zombies) and I knew I had to have those bottles. And, to make the whole discovery even sweeter, they were selling for the same price they had sold at when they hit the market seven years ago, which is about half of what they go for online, being out-of-production bottles. The shopkeeper said they had been languishing on the shelves of one of their stores in a rural area, and since they hadn't sold, they were shipped back to Tokyo. And, I was Johnny on the Spot that day...

Facts

Name: Springbank Vintage 1997, Batch No. 2
Bottled in: 2008
Age: 10 years
ABV: 54. 9%

Tasting Notes

Appearance:
Deep, dark-honey gold.

Nose:
A whiff of smoke, charred oak, leather, honey, tobacco, classic Springbank, tires on hot asphalt, a little coastal tang, peat comes out after a few minutes.

Palate:
Big delivery, sweet and stinging, bitter and slightly astringent (in a pleasing way), enveloping, chocolate marshmallow smoke, orange peel, buttery, but not as much as Springbank 12 CS. Lovely!!

Finish:
Long, big warmth, spices and creamy bitter chocolate.

Conclusion: Though the nose is a bit different than other Springbank expressions, less buttery baby vomit and a bit smokier, the full-bodied flavor made such a huge impact on me that I went back to the store the next day and bought the only remaining bottle.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I picked up the 12-Year C.S. expression too, and got a surprise with that one as well; it was shipped back to Tokyo along with the Vintage 1997 and wasn't the 2015 version as I had been thinking, but actually the 2011 version, which was bottled at 55.3% (The 2015 version was bottled at 53.2%).

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