N: Rich barley-allium-sweet husky [olive] oil > herbal~dry-fruity and [utterly desirable] vanilla mixed with [cask] rubbery ashy garage oils,… [Quorn] mushroomy eggy [Gregg’s] pasties, and did someone put a drop of Brimstone in here? Dropping the SB-sacrosanct BS for one fleeting moment, it is still just whisky,.. and yet, much like the Hazelburn 10, I could write a paragraph for each and every dram.
T: Initially: an effortless delivery considering the abv,.. it’s the dirty oily phenols that speak first before heaps of, oh dear, hot old rubber. These are just first impressions however, and fortunately, things evolve over time. Unlike the sustaining form of the narrowly focused/concentrated Hazelburn, this one arrives with a bold fanfare and slips out a side door a moment later. Soon enough, a flinty liquorice ‘boing’ into nutty dusty oaky toasted vanillas suggests an evolution is to take place.
Months later: Now more acclimatised to the rubber, much more of the cask influences, though still prominent, are far more sympathetic and colourful as the month's pass. With a similar quince jelly Hazelburn note followed by toffee brittle, what remains is the crisp, defined, broad stand-out delivery with a complex oaky salty sweetness – those fruity cask complexities now consolidated/settled. Every sip of this ‘like no other’ single malt provides further insights after perspectives, yet I’m still on the fence regarding the [25%] sherry, [25%] burgundy, and [5%] port – the rest ex-bourbon – cask management/influences. Add heaps of water, and we return to the ole’ faithful profile – archetypal ‘homemade’ husky smoky washy coppery Springbank.
F: At the head of the bottle, we’ve a rubbery vegetal-tannic salty briny/winey finish. Months later, it’s more of the sympathetic yet bold, medium/short toasted oaky > vanilla > salty coppery phenolic [Smarties] barley sugars that win through, though the [cask] rubberiness [along with mint, liquorice wood] is there to the last. Whilst those cask influences rally, they’ve become rather more peripheral and, thankfully, don’t ultimately detract from Springbank’s heart.
C: Initially disappointing, it took 5 months before this one began cooking, and boy was it worth the wait. Going from ‘initially disappointing’ to ‘standout/brilliant’, with ‘busy cask involvement’ and ‘it’s just whisky’ in-between, to full circle, one can’t help admiring this wizardry on the one hand, whilst pragmatically accepting Springbank’s traditional ‘everyday way’ approach on the other. It’s easy to imagine this will improve beautifully in glass – an O&R jewel in the making.