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Springbank 10, 15 and 18 – A Tasty Trio of Whiskies

A few weeks back Emil den Dulk Jnr, from Liquidity, stopped by for an interview (to follow soon) and to walk me through the range of Springbank whiskies that are once again available in South Africa. Springbank tends to have a cult following and that’s no exception here in South Africa. With Liquidity bringing this distillery’s offering back into the country it is bound to have won them more than a few new fans.

My first introduction to Springbank was their stunning 18 year old which I was lucky enough to sample at the 2011 FNB Whisky Live event in Johannesburg. It was one of those “under the counter” bottles that are reserved for die-hard fans and avid whisky lovers who knew a tad more about their drams than Joe Public and I managed to crack the nod. The 18yo was undoubtedly in my top 3 whiskies tasted at the festival. Now with the opportunity to sample it again – in quieter settings and with a cleaner palate – I was wondering if it would live up to the memory.

I’m getting ahead of myself though, as there were two other drams to try before that – the Springbank 10 year old and the Springbank 15 year old with the official tasting notes, and my impressions afterwards.

Springbank 10 Year Old

Springbank 10 Year Old Whisky DESCRIPTION
The perfect introduction to the Springbank range. Complexity is the key word here. Yet the combination of Springbank matured in Bourbon and Sherry casks remains perfectly balanced from first sip to the full, rich finish.
COLOUR
Autumnal Gold.
NOSE
Orchard fruit (Pear) with a hint of peat, vanilla and malt.
PALATE
Malt, oak, spice, nutmeg and cinnamon, vanilla essence.
FINISH
Sweet with a lingering salty tingle.
CASKS
60% bourbon, 40% sherry
ABV
46% alc/vol.

A really great entry-level whisky, with a fair dose of complexity. A hint of citrus and fruits, a waft of sea breeze, a wisp of smoke, fresh earth… and that’s all just on the nose! Medium-bodied and a bit briny on the palate while at the same time managing an oily feel on the tongue. A warm finish with ginger and pepper, and a lick of salt, now fading into the background. If you’re wanting to introduce yourself to Springbank, look no further than the 10 year old. Retails for around R570.

Springbank 15 Year Old

Springbank 15 Year Old Whisky DESCRIPTION
Like a storm gathering off the Kintyre coast. Dark and ominous, yet tastes so good. The richness comes from the high percentage of sherry casks used in maturation. This is a truly classic Springbank, best enjoyed after dinner, or with your favourite cigar.
COLOUR
Dark Russet.
NOSE
Sherry, dark chocolate, christmas cake, almonds, toffee and oak.
PALATE
Creamy, raisins, dark chocolate, figs, marzipan, brazil nuts and vanilla.
FINISH
Oak and sherry notes sustain, mingling with hints of leather.
CASKS
Sherry
ABV
46% alc/vol.

Five more years in the cask and the complexity, balance and elegance of the Springbank 15 year old raises the bar a notch or two. The smoke, while still there, moves aside and lets the fruits out to play. If you’ve got around R800 to spend on a whisky, this is definitely worth a look.

Springbank 18 Year Old

Springbank 18 Year Old Whisky COLOUR
Rusty Copper.
NOSE
Full of authority. Rich and creamy at first, the nose develops to reveal vanilla, ripe fruits and marzipan before hints of sherbert, almonds and strawberries tempt you onwards to the first mouthful.
PALATE
A classic full-bodied dram. Thick and oily in texture with an extremely fruity and mellow taste which gives way to a sweet liquorice and aniseed flavour as it opens up. Hints of liquorice and aniseed.
FINISH
Sweet and chocolatey with some coconut, the finish is long and consistent with a pleasant smoky tingle.
CASKS
Bourbon / Sherry
ABV
46% alc/vol.

Ah, the Springbank 18! I approached this dram with some hesitancy, not wanting to let go of the possibly inflated opinion I had of it after Whisky Live. Does it live up to my own hype? Yes! Yes! YES! I love this whisky. Not as overtly bold as the 15, but even more complex! An explosion of a multitude of red berries, a dash of white pepper, sticky toffee, vanilla, chopped up nuts and more dried fruits and a lovely long finish that has me going back for more. At around R1000 a bottle, I’m hoping that my birthday comes early this year!

There was one Springbank that Liquidity are distributing that I didn’t get to taste – the Springbank Cask Strength 12 year old (approx R690 a bottle). Unfortunately someone had finished off Emil’s bottle but from what I’ve heard and read on the web, it is by all means a fantastic dram, and one that I most definitely want to taste, and soon!

And there you have it. It’s great to have these beauties back in the country and I would say that your whisky cabinet is incomplete without at least one of these fine drams. I know exactly which empty spot on the shelf my Springbank will be taking up! A big thanks to Emil for taking the time to walk me through these great drams.

Sláinte!

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