Single malt whisky - tasting notes

22 Feb 2010

Springbank 18 years (2010)

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Springbank

Last year we saw the release of a new Springbank 18 years old. It was matured mainly in sherry casks and it was received very well by reviewers.

I was told it contained quite a lot of older whisky. In fact 21yo would have been a more accurate name. This year, there’s a new version limited at 9000 bottles with the same cask distribution (80% sherry, 20% bourbon). It’s likely to sell out really soon.

 

Springbank 18 yo Springbank 18y (46%, OB 2010)

Nose: it takes a while to open up, but it’s clear the berries are the key element again. Blueberries, strawberries… an unusual but very enjoyable fruit mix. Underneath is a darker layer of roasted grains, very gentle smoke and hints of marzipan and vanilla. A slightly earthy / dusty edge as well, which makes it a classic Springbank. While it’s still very balanced and entertaining, I remember last year’s release to be more expressive and complex. Mouth: same remark, it seems rather tame. Quite oily with the sherry standing out a bit (dried fruits, some spices, nuts). Slightly bittersweet. A hint of smoke. Finish: medium length but really nice, with notes of blueberries, chocolate and spices.

While it’s still a good whisky, I was underwhelmed by this new version. Maybe it’s the power of imagination (I didn’t have a chance to taste them head-to-head), but the new version seems to be playing in a lower league. Quite expensive: around € 100.

Score: 85/100

Springbank 18 years (2010) 3 Ruben Luyten 2010-02-22
  • http://whisky.foodnwine.co.il gal

    Ruben

    I do have the 15 YO at home, and i dont quite like it enough. how would you rate this one compared to the 15?

  • Charlie

    The older batch/version is still better, even for Springbank?

  • Toon

    Hi Ruben,

    I recently bought the Springbank vintage 1997 batch #2. I really like that one. Do you know how this 18 compares to the 1997 vintage?

    Slainthe,
    Toon

  • http://www.whiskynotes.be Ruben

    It’s difficult to compare malts you didn’t try head-to-head. I’ve only tasted the 1997 vintage batch #1 and that was two years ago… In my memory the 1997 was less sweet (less fruity notes, no sherry) and smokier.

  • james

    Ruben,

    The previous release in the display box was actually not an 18y old Springbank, but it was more like 20 -21 y old.

  • http://www.onversneden.com Johan

    I tasted both previous and new batch. To my likings the previous version is much better, way more complex. And indeed a lot of older whisky in it.

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  • Ricardo

    I liked the 18 YO with the blue label and wreath very much. That one I would have rated 88-89. There are still a few bottles of that floating around.

  • peel99

    I bought a bottle of the Springbank Black Label “18” year. The bottling code was 12/144. This means it was bottled on the 144th run of 2012.

    After comparing the above whisky with 2009 Springbank 18 and my memory of dozens of other limited edition springbanks up around 18 years, it is my educated belief that the black label springbanks sold in the US as “18” years were not 18 at all. In fact, I believe this bottling run was either mistakenly mislabeled or worse (dare I say it? no). The whisky inside was certainly aged in a refill hogshead. If I were to wager an educated guess, I would say the whisky was a 10 year.

    Now, for the clencher: I also had the advantage of comparing the whisky in this black label “18” with a black label 10 that was bottled on the 142 run of 2012. The whisky inside the 10 year was identical in color, flavor and character with the “18” year! Yes, that’s right: the whisky in those two bottles looked, smelled and tasted identical!!!!!

    Well, it didn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to deduce what had happened. The “18” year whisky was in fact 10 year whisky that was sold for about a hundred more US dollars.

    After corresponding with Springbank’s rep (whose name I will not mention), I was summarily ignored. I found this type of treatment to be most unprofessional from Springbank and I am no longer a patron as a result.

    Basically, the method employed to “handle” PR on my discovery was to wear me down via emails with long stretches in between responses from the rep, and then to disagree with me by using fallacies of authority and slippery slope fallacies. Also, the rep insisted that the distillery no longer had samples of the runs I was talking about. And yet, despite all of this, I held the bottles! They were in my possession!

    The email correspondence also became more and more pompous, mock-indignant, and authoritarian, until finally . . . nothing. No more responses at all. I became so upset, that I went out and bought two more bottles (one of each) to prove I had not tampered with the contents when the rep came to my town to address the problem. But, of course, no rep contacted me, and so I was stuck with two extra bottles of 10 year (one mislabeled as an 18, which cost $100 extra dollars more than it should have).

    By the way, a black label in the distillery’s system of labeling is used to connote a new distributor of Springbank whiskies.

    If anyone out there has a bottle of the black label Springbank 10 and the 18, don’t open them! Send them to the proper legal authorities in Scotland for analysis.

    I did attempt to follow through on my strong suspicions for two reasons: 1) I live in the US, and 2) I suspect the whisky industry in Scotland is “managed” by a very old and well established criminal element that could be dangerous to come in contact with, even inadvertently.

    Springbank’s strategy worked, of course, because I live in a distant American state so far away from Scotland. And, of course, the black label bottles that were sold in that 142/144 run (the same run, in my educated opinion) were distributed in the USA where it would be very difficult to analyze them. And so, I feel, Springbank distillery literally got away from the other “F” word (that ends with “d” and has the letter “a” and “u” in the middle). Is this really so surprising?

    Hardly. As much as the whisky industry pretends to be high and mighty and “holier than thou” (even going so far as to print crosses on their labels), it isn’t so very far from its criminal bootlegging origins as most buyers of the bottles might think.

    Instead, the criminals in charge are simply farther removed from the process of making the whisky. Today, most of them are billionaires and even a few trillionaires, while the vast majority have probably never even deigned to set foot in a distillery. The chain of command, up the subsidiary ladder of corporate ownership, resembles a crab apple tree, with rotten limbs here and there and a menagerie of high hanging fruit that is practically invisible from the ground, so to speak. Yes, today’s complicated web of alleged “socialistic capitalism” is really something to behold.

    And, yes, I know that Springbank is allegedly a family business, unlike most openly corporate distilleries in Scotland. But I might hazard a guess that this appellation, in reality, resembles the same word “family” as it was used in the Godfather film series.

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WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.