Having just reviewed a recent [late 2019] batch [WLP], here are two bottle reviews of the official 15yo I bought in June & August 2019 respectively.
This bottle was going down so quickly, I soon bought a second bottle a few weeks later. As seems prevalent these last few months, I’m down to the last few drams before taking a single note, but with the second bottle, I won’t be without!
N: Gentle, slightly drying fruits and smoky wisps, Initially Ben Nevis & Port Ellen-esque with a slightly sulphury/pongy minerality, some mouldiness, sooty dried rolled oats, scorched earth, wet clay, ceramic vases,… but this whisky changes by the minute, and radically as the weeks pass. I also get that cracked oak vanilla note unique to early batches of Glen Scotia’s 15yo funnily enough – more coincidence than a regional quality or a conveniently shared cask order to the peninsular.
T: Initially very quiet/shy, soft and gentle even a suggestion of subduedness. yet it’s never thin. This all changes over time, unusually perhaps, becoming more assured and present as the weeks pass. Stylistically then, we’ve an incredibly moreish fruity sherried and smokey malt but the sherried cask element took its time to show [to my palate]. What then emerges is a rather predominant note of bitter lemon kept in tin cans alongside a faint-yet-certain liquorice note, rosehip tea, soot, and oak smoke. Later, it’s decidedly waxy=briny, slightly plastic-y and sulphury in the best way possible.
F: Delicious relaxed finish on smoky toasted fruit-steeped oak. Months later, that bitter lemon note digs its heels in, accompanied by more sootiness and a light smokiness. Against expectations, there’s very little farminess.
C: A cracker of a whisky, just as I’d experienced in Campbeltown in May of the same year [WLP189].
N: Compared to the previous bottle, this one is firmer & crisper from the off and also sweatier/saltier with a sweet & creamy > farmy < sulphury note – the sherry casks far more obvious up-front than with bottle #1 [initially].
T: I find this bottle firmer and crisper on the palate too, and appearing more youthful than the previous. Strangely I’m missing the softness and slightly subdued nature of that first bottle. I might let this one sit out a few weeks to open up, and indeed a few weeks later – whereas the first bottle did the opposite – this one begins to soften. Water brings out the lightly smoked & oaked maltiness whilst red fruits appear without being blatantly attributed as indicators of sherry cask maturation. Slightly waxy > sooty > briny on the turn – all rather natural/candid as is the Springbank way.
F: A little pepperiness with some bitter & sour lemon from the oak. Bitter & slightly salty sooty lemon coats the underlying barley in keeping with bottle number #1, yet with more minerality at the tail. Dry oaky smoke, a touch of toasted Shreddies, only a farmy hint and that slightly sulphury minerality holds out till the last. Under it all, barley sugar-Smarties casings remain true.
C: Though some particular differences from bottle to bottle remain, the sibling resemblance between these two same-batch bottles was startlingly clear. It just took [me] some time for those qualities to converge comfortably.