Springbank – 14yo 2000 Cadenhead’s
(Distilled 2000, bottled November 2015, bourbon barrel, 234 bottles, 49%)
This was matured in a refill bourbon barrel that previously held New Zealand whisky from the Willowbank distillery. That’s a new one on me! From the USA to the Antipodes to Campbeltown – a very cosmopolitan cask.
Nose: A very quiet, non-declarative impression at first. It’s softly lemony, with a sort of sweet earthiness and just the faintest hint of smoke. There’s some clotted cream, and – after a few minutes – some lemon thyme and angelica. The first dram from this bottle actually had a slightly odd swimming pool tang, but that vanished quickly and it’s now – halfway through – a little bit fruitier overall.
Taste: It begins with a lovely sharp tart lemony attack, and then softens. Some oily smokiness, with just a smidge of smoked fish and cheese. Sour apple sweets. Hickory wood chips and hessian. The strength is perfect, but adding a bit of water brings out a touch more sweetness and fruit. A dilemma there.
Finish: Ends on a slightly salty note, with some bread. A sour sort of pumpernickel and salty pretzels. The citrus is a little sweeter now: lemon curd maybe, or lemon yogurt. Still that sort of sweet sugar beet earthiness. Really long aromatic woodsmoke aftertaste.
I can’t say what influence the cask’s provenance had, but this is a somewhat atypical Springbank. The slightly butyric edge (butter, cheese, yogurt) gives it a Lowlands feel – like it could be an austere lightly-peated Bladnoch, if you can imagine such a thing. I’ve quite enjoyed it (especially the lush sweet smoke in the finish) but it’s certainly not one I’d recommend for newcomers to Springbank, or for anyone with a sweet tooth. For the jaded, or those seeking less obvious pleasures, perhaps.