Recently, I celebrated my birthday and decided to indulge in some excellent whisky. To start my evening, I savoured my cherished Balblair 1979 OB before moving on to Springbank. Since I plan to visit Springbank for a few days in July, I want to be adequately prepared. Surprisingly, I haven’t yet reviewed any Springbank whisky on More Drams. Therefore, let’s begin with a bang: the 2022 release of the yearly Springbank 30-year-old. I will also compare it to a Springbank 1969 bottled by Signatory Vintage, which I could taste last year and fill a sample.
Springbank 30-Year-Old 2022 Review
Springbank 30-Year-Old is a yearly release, bottled by the distillery itself. 2022’s batch was bottled on April 22, 2022, and has been matured in 85% Bourbon and 15% Sherry casks. Only 1400 bottles were produced, filled at a strength of 46.0% ABV, and as usual at Springbank, without chill filtration nor colouring. Though its initial recommended retail price was £850 (less than €1000) in the UK, don’t expect to pay less than €3000 on the secondary market. Springbank releases are always a source of greed…
Neat, the Springbank 30-Year-Old 2022 Release presents an opening aroma of pineapple and mango, with subtle hints of grass and minerals such as chalk. A slight Springbank funk is also detectable.
After being allowed to aerate for a prolonged period of four weeks, the shyness dissipates completely, giving way to an explosion of tropical fruit aromas such as passion fruit, guava, mango, pineapple, and dragon fruit. There are also notes of citrus fruits like oranges, peach, and melon. The mineral notes of chalk are still present, but with the addition of limestone. The whisky also gives off a pleasant floral aroma, although the types of flowers are difficult to distinguish.
Neat: The palate has a soft and velvety mouthfeel, with a tropical flavour profile that echoes its nose. There is a soft smoke that complements the tropical fruits, along with notes of vanilla, caramel, light wood, and a hint of chocolate bitterness. The peat smoke is subtle and well integrated. The minerality on the nose carries over to the palate, with notes of chalk and limestone. The whisky also has a refreshing quality, with flavours of lemon zest, white pepper, menthol cigarettes, eucalyptus sweets, and cucumber water.
After four weeks of aeration, it becomes spicier, with a more pronounced presence of pepper, ginger, chili, and tabasco that amplify the tropical fruitiness. The wood notes also become more apparent.
The finish is long and features flavours of milk chocolate, mango, and pineapple that complement the tropical notes of the palate. The finish also has a refreshing quality, with hints of lemon zest, white pepper, and eucalyptus that linger on the palate. The menthol cigarettes note from the palate also carries over to the finish, adding a touch of fresh smokiness.
After my first tasting of this Springbank 30-Year-Old 2022 Release, I thought it was good, but the nose was too subdued and lacked a certain depth that I was expecting. And a soul. However, after consulting some friends, I decided to let it breathe for a few days. A few days turned into four weeks, and the transformation was remarkable. The nose went from being shy to incredibly expressive, bursting with an explosion of fruit aromas. Even though the palate also evolved, with a noticeable increase in spice and wood, the transformation was not as pronounced. Whilst I understand the initial retail price of this whisky due to its age and the scarcity of Springbank old releases, I cannot recommend purchasing it at its current secondary market price. But this is a stunning whisky nonetheless.
Springbank 1969 Signatory Review
The Springbank 1969 Signatory Vintage Rare Reserve is a single malt whisky from the Springbank distillery, bottled by Signatory Vintage. Distilled on February 12, 1969, and bottled on October 10, 2003, this whisky is 34 years old. It was aged in a refill butt cask, numbered 262, at first at the distillery then for the end of its life, in Signatory’s warehouse. It produced a limited run of only 408 bottles filled at 54.7% ABV, at natural colour and probably without chill filtration. I could buy a glass of 4 cl for ‘just’ €80 last year in a whisky bar, filled a sample and drank the rest at the time. There’s a German shop listing a bottle for €2,900, and the secondary market will probably be the only way to find a bottle.
Neat: The nose reveals a rich tapestry of fruit aromas. Tropical fruits, particularly ripe bananas, dominate, with supporting notes of yellow fruits, such as quinces and peaches. Mango and passion fruit provide further tropical sweetness, while a variety of apple scents add complexity. Hints of vanilla and metallic notes of copper coins can also be detected, along with subtle herbal undertones of bay leaves.
With water: With the addition of a few drops of water, notes of old leather, dusty books, and mechanical grease emerge, lending additional depth to the aroma profile.
Neat: The palate delivers a thick, waxy and creamy texture, with a complex and concentrated fruity taste. Sour notes of passion fruit, grapefruit, and pineapple are the stars of the show, supported by a whipped cream-like sweetness. The combination is reminiscent of a fruity pastry where the citrus juices have been heavily incorporated into the cream filling. There are hints of spice, with subtle wood notes and a delicate metallic touch, similar to that detected on the nose.
With water: The palate becomes more complex, with spicy flavours such as chilli and tabasco sauce taking centre stage. The umami taste of balsamic vinegar and salted soy sauce adds a savoury depth to the flavour profile.
The finish is long and characterised by grapefruit notes, with the oak wood becoming more prominent but not overpowering. The presence of paraffin helps to keep the fruity flavors lingering and prevents any drying effect from the oak.
The Springbank 1969 Signatory Vintage Rare Reserve is a true masterpiece. The nose offers an explosion of fruits with additional hints of vanilla and metallic notes. The palate is thick and creamy, and the mix of concentrated passion fruit, grapefruit and pineapple combined with unsweetened whipped cream is unforgettable. The finish is long, still very fruity and not at all drying. Overall, this whisky is a top contender and one of the best I’ve ever tasted. This whisky is easily one of my top three favourites, alongside the Brora 9th release and Port Ellen 1979 12th release (I’ll have to get around to publishing that review soon!). I’m hopeful that the whisky bar where I found it last year still has some left. I’ll be visiting in less than a month and if, by some miracle, they still have some, I won’t hesitate to purchase the remaining of the bottle.
Thanks Dimitri! Photos: Whiskybase.