There’s lots about Springbank that baffle me. Of late, I’ve been wondering why, when the hype for the distillery has reached an all-time high (mainly of its own accord), that J&A Mitchell have taken the decision to reinvest back into being active on both the tasting circuit and social media. Though I’m already starting to hear mutterings that this was perhaps short-lived and that Springbank may well soon revert back to its more natural tortoising posture - I’m still perplexed that they decided to come out to play in the first place.
It’s not as if the distillery’s products need any additional profile or consumer purchase poking. You’d think that these forms of brand engenderment are better suited for when the tides have turned in the other direction. But as is often the case with Springbank – not everything needs to make sense. Odd decisions in my view, but still Teflon nevertheless.
This Sponge Springbank has some maturity to it, having spent its 27 years within the confines of a refill sherry hogshead before being bottled last year at 47% on the nose. The release didn’t receive that much attention. And as outlined above – it didn’t really need to. Immediately snaffled up.
Nose: Animated, classical fruitiness – preserved lemon and tinned pineapple alongside jasmine petals, dried sage and a powdered sugar quality. Then metallurgy – wire wool, iron filings and copper pipes together with further industrial edges such as lamp oil. The addition of water isn’t required here at all – but we’ll try nevertheless in the name of science – Chamomile tea, slapped mint, Blu Tac and wet leaves.
Taste: Naturally textural with machine oils and lustrous waxes. Fruits are at the fore once more – pineapple, lemon, kiwi and tart cooking apples. Dusty leather seat coverings are followed by powdered chalk, steeped black tea, white pepper, anise and a developing sense of high sheen polish in the mid to back palate. Reduction introduces a big clove note together with menthol and touches of salinity.
Finish: Quite long with graphite and tangy fruits lingering.
The expressive fruitiness on show here reinforces the inherent distillate quality and the underlying level of maturation at play. That said, the metallic tones and edges, though not in anyway unpleasant, sometimes feel like they’re drawn from a different whisky – they’re not 100% aligned with the fruit-forward character 100% of the time. That’s being pernickety though - this is of course excellent – no one would expect anything less.