springbank bowmore glen garioch whisky sponge decadent drinks

Bowmore 2004 / Springbank 1999 / Glen Garioch 2003 (Decadent Drinks)

It doesn’t get much more high-end than bottlings from Whisky Sponge. Or Decadent Drinks. (Not counting legacy bottlers such as Gordon & MacPhail or Signatory Vintage). Just in the last month or so, self-proclaimed grumpy man Angus MacRaild picked a Bowmore, Springbank and Glen Garioch for release. One even better than the other.

Just sit on that for a minute. Bowmore. Springbank. Glen Garioch. These distilleries produced some of the best whiskies of all time. And you can bet your @$$ that Angus has tried many of these legends. He knows what truly iconic whisky is supposed to taste like. Sure, everything is subjective, but even in whisky there are some absolute truths. One of them is that Bowmore, Springbank and Glen Garioch are among the best.

If I trust anyone to filter out the noise and select the best these distilleries have to offer, it would be Angus MacRaild. But hey, that’s enough praise for one day. Let’s go…

glen garioch 2003 21 years whisky sponge decadent drinks review

Glen Garioch 2003 21 Years (55.4%, Whisky Sponge, Edition No. 91)

Nose: Whiffs of bungcloth, but also a good amount of melted butter, some light lemon zest to cut through the fattiness, as well as whiffs of thyme and papaya. Then some overripe bananas, followed by gorse, tinned pineapple and pollen. A highly attractive profile.
Taste: A creamy, syrupy mouthfeel. The palate is as tropical as the nose suggests. Remarkable. Lots of mango, pineapple and papaya, a well as a light menthol note and just a sprinkle of white pepper. Also some Acacia honey, lemon drizzle and vanilla cake.
Finish: Medium to long. Lingering citrus, an assortment of waxes and peaches.

Unlike any Glen Garioch I’ve ever tried. I would’ve mistaken this for one of those fruity Irish single malts from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Except for the wonderfully waxy, buttery influences. What a surprise!

bowmore 2004 20 years islay sponge decadent drinks review

Bowmore 2004 20 Years (54.9%, Islay Sponge, Part V)

Nose: Early 2000s Bowmore as it should be. Very coastal, but undeniably fruity as well. Hints of charred lemon peel, rock pools and wet pebbles. Also a distant (medicinal) peat, some plasticine and jammy apricots. And orange marmelade too. Then nori, honey and vanilla as well.
Taste: Bowmore is sometimes slightly thinner than I’d like, but this cask is an exception. Nowhere near waxy or buttery, but there’s a distant oiliness. Hints of charcoal too, as well as a nice salinity and vibrant notes of lemon, lychees and pineapples. A few medicinal touches in the background, alongside feathery smoke.
Finish: Medium to long. More lemon, gentle bonfire smoke and grapefruit.

Really all I could ask for from modern Bowmore. A throwback almost? Either way, this kind of profile is wholly unique to Bowmore these days. And I’m all for it.

springbank 1999 24 years westie sponge decadent drinks review

Springbank 1999 24 Years (54.5%, Westie Sponge, Edition No. 3)

Nose: Hints of teak wood alongside burlap, tobacco leaves and Strepsils, but also orange liqueur, scuffed leather and earthy minerals. Only Springbank could’ve produced this. There are plums and dates, alongside wispy smoke and blackcurrants. Slivers of raisins, zesty lemons and limes as well. More umami as times goes one. A drop of soy sauce.
Taste: Proper syrupy, oily mouthfeel. Almost vinous. Sweet tobacco, more cherries and crème de cassis also. Just a pinch of black pepper, then a bit of menthol, damp forest floor and aceto di balsamico. And just to stay with the Italian theme, there’s prosciutto too. Just the tiniest whisper of peat, and wonderful dunnage flavours.
Finish: Long. Just slightly dry, lots of tobacco again and a tinge of charcoal.

The first-fill sherry is strong. This Springbank 1999 lives near the edge, but never goes over the cliff. Only the slightly vinous mouthfeel keeps me from scoring it even higher.

Samples provided by Decadent Drinks

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