What a great idea to release three sister casks at the same time: two refill bourbon hogsheads (distilled in October 1996) and one first-fill sherry hoggie (distilled May 1996).
Springbank 19 yo 1996 (56,4%, Archives ‘Shells from the Bay of Caracas’ 2016, refill bourbon hogshead #550, 284 btl.)
Nose: a nice mineral / fruity combo. Lots of ferns, a little linseed oil, hay and wet limestone, mixed with juicy grapefruits and lemon drops. Subtle vanilla and nougat. A light grassy yeastiness as well, which works well.
Mouth: very typical, raw palate. Lots of punch and lots of briny, zesty and salty notes. Apple peelings and orange liqueur. Some citrus green tea. Very mineral. Smoky notes and herbal liqueurs towards the end.
Finish: very long, dry, chalky and herbal but with light lemony notes underneath.
If you like Springbank minerality, you’ll love this one. It finds the right balance between the austere and the zesty / fruity side. Around € 160.
Springbank 19 yo 1996 (54,9%, Archives ‘Shells from the Bay of Caracas’ 2016, refill bourbon hogshead #551, 239 btl.)
Nose: this one seems a little more narrow, with the same kind of typical Springbank minerality but discreet fruits. Soft grainy notes, quite a lot of library dust, and light whiffs of aspirin. Earthy notes and leather. Aromatic and punchy, just not as focused as the other one.
Mouth: punchy, with a bittersweet attack. Seville oranges, a little tonic water, grapefruit juice and pepper. Different oils. Rather great if you like this style. Grows slightly wider, towards marmalade and with firm sooty, ashy notes underneath (more than in #550). Some nice apricot jam in the end. Touches of salt as well.
Finish: long, bitter and salty. Slightly rough.
Again this is about sweetness, saltiness and bitter notes, all trying to get the upper hand. Just when I thought this was the rougher sister, I picked up some roundness. Close together in any case. Around € 160.
Springbank 19 yo 1996 (54,8%, Archives ‘Shells from the Bay of Caracas’ 2016, fresh sherry hogshead #106, 227 btl.)
Nose: entirely different from the other two of course. Lots of brown sugar, milk chocolate and caramelly notes (which I usually don’t like, but this is nice). Elegant sherry notes, raisins and figs. At first also matchstick heads and sulphury hints, which luckily fade away after airing and develop into subtle cigar smoke. Tobacco. Cherry stem tea. Wet hay. Light earthy notes. There’s something old-style about this, which is very nice.
Mouth: rich and slightly buttery attack, with more tobacco, leather, raisins and prunes. Red berries, some Heering Cherry. Grows sharper, with liquorice and chalk. Hints of thyme and salt. Nutty notes. Chocolate coated orange candy. Cloves too.
Finish: long, oaky and spicy, with some leathery Oloroso character.
Very good, complex stuff. I really like the old-style sherry profile (after airing), mixed with Springbank’s earthy and salty elements. Around € 180.
For me the #551 wasn’t necessary in this line-up as its sister cask shows a perfect bourbon matured Springbank profile already, but all three are great casks from Springbank. If you bottle your first Springbank, do it properly, and make it three.
Side note: I’ve just found out the Dutch CasQueteers group has selected cask #107 for their cask programme.