I often talk about flavours in whisky as two distinct types.
I tend to divide them into ‘Natural’ and ‘Industrial’. Now yes, all flavours in whisky are natural, but let me explain.
If you think of softer flavours (at the risk of being generic – typical Speyside flavours) such as honey, floral and fruity then these are examples of natural flavours. Heavier flavours such as phenols, creosote, tar etc that we find in many Islay or Campbeltown malts are industrial flavours.
The very concept of Industrial flavours, these seemingly heavy and man made compounds, by their very nature can almost prevent whiskies of those profiles being described as elegant. It is not a descriptor that lends itself to the concept.
There is however an exception to every rule. Step forward this independently bottled 22 year old Springbank from Yorkshire based bottler, Claxtons.
Springbank, IB (Claxtons), 22 yo, 55% abv, press sample (avaliable here)
This particular expression was matured in a Bourbon Hogshead, was distilled in 1996 and bottled in 2018.
The nose is slightly mineral, a touch flinty. Secondly we find some zingy citrus notes and touches of woodsmoke. There are distant notes of damp earth and coastal breeze, which intensifies as time goes on. There is a very fruity undertone here with a big hit of tropical fruit, namely peaches, pineapple and some unripened apricots. There is a distinct green apple note lingering somewhere too.
The palate sees the prominent yet restrained emergence of the industrial Campbeltown flavour profiles that we admire so much. Faint creosote and noticeable smoke mix well with a malty base. There is a tangy sweetness running through the dram, mostly from the fruits. Hints of fishing boats and sunny quaysides intermingle with a delicious ashy and drying tang.
The finish is long and lingering with some delicious notes of dark chocolate, root ginger, soft spices and fresh squeezed but sharp lemon juice. A faint twist of ash and brine completes an excellent finish.
A juxtaposition of a refined yet industrial malt. I really enjoyed this, especially as I’m going through a bit of a Springbank rediscovery just now.
On the downside there is very little change left over from £300 making it out of my price range (however not out of line with other current indie Springbank to be fair) but for those willing to spend the money then an excellent dram awaits.
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