Springbank 2011 8 Years Old (Open Day 2019)
Where is this whisky madness going to end? It seems as though even Springbank and Cadenhead’s are no longer willing to go against the grain, as they recently released whiskies for prices that audibly made me gasp. Springbank presented a 24yo sherry matured edition at 390 quid, while Cadenhead’s bottled a similarly aged Springbank from a refill-bourbon cask, priced at 420 pounds.
They are far from the worst offenders — I guess even using the term offenders in relation to Springbank and Cadenhead’s is already one step too far. The prices are understandable even, as independent bottlers are asking similar amounts, while Springbank fetches crazy prices on the secondary market. It’s just a little disheartening to see Springbank and Cadenhead’s sort of buckle to the pressure as well.
That’s not to say all Springbank is now unattainable. They still release affordable stuff, well under the 100 pound threshold. The Hazelburn 14yo Oloroso from earlier this year is a great example. And I fondly remember the Springbank 14yo Bourbon Wood from a few years ago — please could we get a sequel of that one maybe?
Another example of a relatively affordable Springbank is the most recent Open Day release, which I’m reviewing today. At 65 pounds it’s certainly not cheap for an 8-year-old, but since it is heavily sherried, a premium is to be expected for that type of profile.
Springbank 2011 8 Years Old (56.8%, OB for ‘Open Day 2019’)
Nose: Lots of sherry. LOTS. There’s not much left of the Springbank signature, even after just 8 years of aging. That being said, while it is maybe a tad on the dry side, it is otherwise pretty nicely balanced, but very dense. Salted peanuts, tobacco leaves, aniseed and molasses. A touch of cherry syrup and smouldering embers.
Taste: Quite salty, with hints of mocha, bitter orange peel, rubber and bacon, as well as cured meats. It’s all a bit much, to be honest. Easily the most sherried Springbank I’ve ever tasted.
Finish: Salt. More of the same actually. Long.
If you love in-your-face sherried whiskies, you will just gobble this up. It is unapologetic and certainly not very sophisticated, lacking any Springbank DNA. I can often identify Springbank during blind tastings, but I would never be able to do that with this one. Not exactly what I would go for, but of course there’s a big audience out there for these types of whiskies.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.