Springbank 21 years old is an iconic whisky (read this if you don’t know what I’m talking about). Several batches were bottled in the 1980’s and 1990’s but since 2005 the reserves had dried up. As the distillery was closed from 1979 until 1989, it was clear that it wouldn’t come back before 2011. And here it is… matured in fresh and refill sherry casks and presented in a 1980’s gay golden packaging.
Springbank 21 years
(46%, OB 2011, 1560 btl.)
Nose: well, very good. Rich sherry notes: juicy plums and rhubarb jam. Hints of heather honey and roasted sugar. Not exactly sweet though, there are plenty of spices (ginger, pepper) as well as some wood tones and a certain musty cellar theme to keep it on the dry side. The modern Springbank austerity (minerals, brine, wax) is also showing. Quite complex. Mouth: starts fruity (cassis, raisins) but quickly becomes spicy and sour / vinous. Orange peel, liquorice, ginger, cinnamon. More oaky dryness now. Very faint smoke as well. Finish: long, half-sweet, half-dry, on anise, grass and raisins.
A very complex dram, probably the best modern Springbank. I have to admit I was quite skeptical but in the end it did win me over. It takes the old profile and blends it with the new distillery character. A worthy successor if not for the winey side (but that’s also a modern feature I guess).
Originally around € 250. Already gone now and the last remaining bottles are fetching € 500. Would I trade one of the old ones against this new version? Don’t push it. No.
The Caroni rum distillery had been in business since 1918 in Trinidad but it was closed in 2002 due to industry consolidation, leaving Angostura as the only active distillery in Trinidad and Tobago.
In October 2008 the distillery still had an estimated 5300 casks of aged rum in stock which occasionally find their way to independent bottlers like A.D. Rattray (especially the 1997 casks, or so it seems). Silver Seal, which have a great tradition in rum, also bottled a cask in 2011.
(46%, Silver Seal 2011)
Nose: very aromatic, with overripe banana and cinnamon sweetness as the first impressions. Then some marzipan and caramel. Typical Caroni hints of engine oil and tar as well. Plenty of vanilla. Whiffs of mint. Very nice. Mouth: pretty austere. Some oak resin mixed with earthy notes (dried mushrooms) and leather. Again a tarry note and something slightly medicinal. Some liquorice and spices. Burnt sugar too. Finish: long, bold and tarry with a salty twist and whiffs of cinnamon.
Good, slightly heavy rum with some unique traces of cognac and Islay-style aromas. Caroni is closed but luckily we’ll be able to enjoy it during the years to come. Around € 77.
Nose: at first it suffers from an avalanche of polished oak, varnish and wood glue. After some time these notes start to give way to nice fruits underneath. Apricots, pineapple, guava, tangerine. A little mint and leather. Mouth: easy drinking strength, again a tropical fruitiness of pineapple / coconut, gooseberries and papaya. Again some oak in the background – better under control now, but showing some herbs and fruit tea as well as a slightly bitter edge. It remains pretty juicy though. Finish: medium long, on sweet oak and spices, mainly ginger.
Nose: all these 1989’s seem to share a vanilla theme and a pastry-like quality. This one is certainly the same family, with sweet gooseberries, yellow apples and warm beeswax. No strawberries or pastry though. Instead it displays more coastal notes, brine and minerals than the MoS version, as well as more ginger and seaweed. Mouth: wow, rather perfect Clynelish style. Thick and sweet with vanilla, a little honey and candied lemon. All of this backed up by typical minerals and paraffin. A little pepper and whiffs of ginger. Developing on soft grassy notes. Great balance. Finish: long, fully displaying its mineral side now, its trademark wax and a soft hint of peat.
Although the Malts of Scotland version had something unique (a buttery warmth and interesting jammy notes), this one is more typical with a balanced character of coastal notes and sweetness. It’s a more quintessential expression of this distillery. Dominiek and Luc sure know how to pick their Clynelish.
Around € 130.
Today is a special day for me… I’m getting married!
That calls for a special dram.
The oldest cask in the GlenDronach warehouses is an oloroso sherry cask filled in 1968. When you hear the GlenDronach team talking about this cask, they refer to it as cask #1.
In 1993 however, long before the current owners had bought GlenDronach, an official 25 year-old 1968 vintage was released and a number of batches (seven casks, or more?) were bottled exclusively for Nippon Airways and mentioned a specific cask number. One of them was named… cask #1. Is this the same cask that’s still lying around? Probably not. All I’m saying is don’t take this too seriously, it’s probably just a nice way of indicating the oldest cask available at the time of writing.
I was lucky enough to try a sample drawn from this cask in 2011. As far as I know, it’s still uncertain when and in which form it would be bottled. There should still be a couple of 1968 casks by the way, so how long before we see sister casks popping up in the yearly Single Cask releases?
GlenDronach 43 yo 1968
(48,3%, cask #1, distillery sample)
Nose: quite punchy for such an oldie, as if the classic figs and dates (which are well present) are now soaked in brandy. Other things that I notice when comparing this to 1971 or 1972 casks is added wax / waxed furniture, mint and ripe apricots. Really nice. Classic sherry with leather, parsley and cardamom. A hint of smoke. After some time: cherries and raspberries. Mouth: very rich but a little on the dry side maybe. Herbs, raisins and chocolate. Mint. Prunes. Quite some liquorice and cinnamon. I’m missing a little fruitiness here maybe, but it’s certainly not woody. Finish: very long, with chocolate, oak and hints of oranges.
This GlenDronach 1968 cask #1 has an amazingly fresh nose, and I adore its profile. I didn’t have the occasion to put it against my favourite 1970’s casks but it might be the best GlenDronach nose I’ve tried. Not available (yet), let’s hope it keeps going uphill until being bottled. Thanks for this unique sample, Joeri. Much appreciated.
Tomorrow 14th of April, Dutch retailer Whiskysite.nl is organising a festival Whisky in Leiden (tickets are sold out I’m afraid).
For their festival bottling, Dominiek “The Whiskyman” Bouckaert selected a Clynelish 1997 matured in a refill sherry hogshead. Actually they’ll split the cask as the rest is bottled in a new “classic” series by The Whiskyman.
Clynelish 15 yo 1997 (53,5%, Whisky in Leiden 2012, refill sherry hogshead, 180 btl.)
Nose: starts a little shy but develops a remarkably balanced Clynelish nose, switching nicely between mineral / austere notes (flints, wax, grass) and sweeter notes (orange candy, lemon candy, apple peel). Growing increasingly aromatic until it settles on nice toffee / strawberry notes. Great Clynelish. Mouth: oily, with big citrus and wax. Quite some grapefruit zest. A very light bitterness as well (think Campari or bitter oranges) with a soft mustardy edge. Still a nice candied sweetness in the background. Ginger. Again a faint toffee / mocha note towards the end. Finish: medium long, clean, with fruity sweetness and slightly sharper citrus zest.
No sherry influence that we could detect, but that doesn’t matter. Just high quality medium aged Clynelish. Something we like to have on our shelves at all times. Available from Whiskysite.nl. Around € 60.
Ah, the famous Springbank sherry style of the 1960’s… Even though they sometimes refer to this profile when describing recent expressions, nothing comes close.
Springbank 15 yo 1964
(45,7%, OB for Samaroli Import 1979, sherry wood, 75 cl, 360 btl.)
Nose: rich sherry, with a list of aromas including but not limited to: prune sauce, eucalyptus, leather, gingerbread, cherries, pine resin, wax, cigar boxes, old books, soft smoke… A very light metallic note and hints of dried mushrooms. Yes! Mouth: not too wide but nicely oily with a combination of sweet & sour cherries. Dates, figs, walnuts, some Grand Marnier notes and herbs. Tobacco and hints of smoke as well. Fading on lovely dark chocolate. Finish: long, on a drier sherry profile now.
Quite grand, this old Springbank from sherry wood, even though it was bottled at a relatively young age. The real thing indeed. Around € 750.