Springbank Gaja Barolo

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Distillery/Brand: Springbank | Region: Campbeltown | ABV: 54.7% | Color: Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 85

Review
Springbank is pretty much a genius distillery in my opinion. The way it produces three different whiskies from one set of stills is quite remarkable. And the fact that each whisky is pretty darn good is further testament to it’s stellar reputation.

It’s fought it’s fair share of wars with sulphur but then who hasn’t? Springbanks are primarily sherried and gently peated with an air of coastal sea salt around them. Their 10 & 12 year old cask strength versions are a joy to behold. As is the rather pricey 21 year old.

This particular expression is not as old that. Bottled at nine years it spent it’s first four years in a bourbon cask and the last five in a fresh Gaja Barolo barrel.

The Gaja Barolo is a type of red wine produced in Northern Italy using the Nebbiolo and Barbera grapes. I’ve, frankly, never had a Gaja Barolo so I’m not really sure what to expect.

The sample I have was distilled in February 2004 and bottled in October 2013. It is one of 11,000 bottles and served at 54.7% ABV.

Nose: Quite grainy. Dusty. Green. Herbaceous. Hint of talcum powder. Very mild peat. Faint cardboard. Ginger gratings. Dry wood. Honey. Sea salt. Could have been stronger overall. Lacks the depth and complexity, in my opinion.

Palate: Lots of pepper. Oak. Berries. Sea salt. Mild peat. Cinnamon. Dark chocolate. Tannins. Tobacco leaves. Brown sugar. A bit rough around the edges and a touch bitter. It’s not a disaster, mind you. But it so easily could have been.

Finish: Woody. Coffee beans. Some spice. Berries. Bitter ash.

Not entirely sure whether the experiment is working. It’s interesting enough, I suppose. Not sure why this particular wine was chosen to mature the spirit. I wish I could get my hands on an actual bottle of Gaja Barolo just to understand.

Not my favorite Springbank, that’s for sure.

Rating: 85

Springbank 10 Years

Springbank 10

Distillery/Brand: Springbank | Region: Campbeltown | ABV: 46% | Color: Light Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 22 | Finish: 22 | Balance: 22 | Rating: 88

Review
Campbeltown, and more importantly Springbank, expressions are always on top of my love list. They have an allure which I can’t explain and I love the fact that simply by being creative they can create different spirits from essentially the same equipment.

The Springbank has the distinction of being distilled two and a half times (not two and not three) unlike all other spirits being produced in Scotland.

This one is a 10 year old bottled at 46% and has seen some sherry casks along the way.

Nose: Initially quite malty with strong salt, brine and coastal sea air. The sherry starts to peek through quickly after that. Dark chocolate oranges infused with cardamom and a hint of delicate peat with some brown bread thrown in for good measure.

Palate: Very true to the nose. The chocolate citrus is there but now with over ripe dates and raisins. There is sweet but the savory side is stronger. Cardamom and cinnamon round off the spicy notes.

Finish: Medium. With salivating oily cinnamon.

This is a very accomplished whisky and serves as a basis for the older geniuses that follow.

Rating: 88

Springbank 12 Year Cask Strength

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Distillery/Brand: Springbank
Region: Campbeltown
ABV: 55.3%
Color: Young Sauternes

Nose: 22
Taste: 24
Finish: 24
Balance: 23

Review
Those of you who know me know that I have an irrational attachment to anything that comes out of Campbeltown. Not because I’m an expert on Campbeltown expressions; far from it. It simply has some sort of mystical allure that I can’t define.

So be it.

The spirit is a blend of 60% first fill sherry hogsheads and 40% re-fill sherry butts and served up at a lip smacking 55.3% and is from a December 2011 bottling.

Nose: My initial impression was of strong rubber flip flops which made me suspect the influence of sulphur. However, a bit of air and patience takes care of that quite well. The nose is quite thick with treacle marmalade and black peppercorns. The sherry is quite dry with a touch of cinnamon smoke.

Palate: Gorgeous delivery! An intense dark spice and cocoa powder rub on a basket of oranges. The chocolate treacle is back and gives it a lovely bitter sweet edge.

Finish: Spectacular! Long and intense with oily chocolate, wood and black peppers.

This is pretty much one of my favorite malts to come out of Campbeltown. What a class act this distillery is.

Rating: 93