Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Springbank CV

stats: Single Malt Scotch, Campbeltown, no age statement, 46.0%, $60 (typical 750ml price)

Contemplating the contents of my Springbank Whisky School bottling resulted in this rather lengthy post back in May. I eventually came up with the theory that the bottle contained an amalgamation of the remnants of several single cask Springbanks. But early on I had considered (and quickly discounted the idea) that the contents of my Whisky School bottle was somehow derived from Springbank CV.

Even though I had ruled out any relation, I still thought it would be fun to compare the two bottlings. Springbank CV originally appeared in the late 90’s, and after a gap of more than ten years a second edition came out in 2010. The 200 ml bottle that I have was purchased at the distillery in the spring of 2012 in a three-pack (with Longrow CV and Hazelburn CV).

It has an up-to-date label, clearly indicating it is the second edition. Upon further inspection I noticed “12/63” printed on the back side of the label. Suspecting that this was a bottling date, the 63rd day of 2012, I went looking for confirmation. I found what I was looking for when I dug out an empty Springbank 10 year bottle and spotted the “11/280” printed on the back of the label.

That prompted me to look at the bottle of Longrow 14 year that I purchased over the winter; it was marked with “09/350”. I’ve often wondered how long bottles can linger in the distribution chain, and now I have a clear example of three years from bottling to purchase. It’s great to see these bottling date codes becoming more common, as very few distillers put out a product that is entirely consistent from year to year.

Unfortunately there’s not much information about this whisky on the Springbank website, but a perusal of other reviews indicates that it is a mixture of Bourbon, Sherry and Port casks, with ages from 7 years to 14 years. Logic and the color of the whisky lead me to suspect that its makeup is dominated by youth and Bourbon barrel influence. As for the original edition, I was unable to find any reviews or background information; just a few auction listings, so I have no idea how its composition compares to that of the current offering.

On the nose, the Springbank CV is sharp and has mild peaty notes with an almost chemical-like quality. Sweat, briny aromas are layered in as well. It doesn’t smell bad, just somewhat peculiar. It is full bodied, but seems mild up front. Upon swallowing, the flavors begin to well up, with gentle peat smoke, sea spray and hay joined by juniper-like notes. It hits some rough edges as it moves along, showing its immaturity as it goes through the finish. Heat and spice build and dominate at the end. It lacks the rich fruit qualities of the standard 10 year Springbank and comes across somewhat disjointed. But honestly, a less than stellar Springbank is still better that the flagship offering of quite a few other single malt distillers.

By comparison, The Whisky School Springbank is simply in another class. Its flavor profile is dramatically different, but more significantly it is exceptionally well-integrated and maintains sublime continuity from start to finish. The full tasting notes can be found in the post that I linked to above.

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