For the second year in a row the Campbeltown Malts Festival was moved to a virtual space. Presumably the last time they’ll have to do this, but who the hell knows. Springbank organised an entire Online Tasting Week in May with tasting sessions five days in a row. They also released a few limited editions, including the Springbank 8 Years I’ll be reviewing today.
I myself did not participate in any of the events. I blame Brexit. Ever since the UK officially left the EU earlier this year, getting whisky delivered from there has been an absolute pain. Granted, I order most of my whisky from Dutch shops anyway. We’re blessed with many specialist shops and decent prices in the Netherlands. But every once in a while I did order something from the other side of the North Sea, be it from Master of Malt, The Whisky Exchange, Whiskyshop Dufftown or someplace else. Not anymore though.
With import duty and handling costs, buying from the UK has just become too much of a gamble. Not to mention the terrible job customs and many couriers have done in adapting to the new situation. Luckily for me there still are some Dutchies not afraid to take a gamble. One of them is Noortje, who was kind enough to share the Springbank 8 Years Online Tasting Week 2021 with me. It spent the final two years in first-fill Pedro Ximénez casks.
Springbank 8 Years (56.5%, OB, Online Tasting Week 2021)
Nose: Plenty of blackcurrants, creme de cassis and aceto di balsamico, but that’s the Pedro Ximénez influence. There’s raisins, plums and dates as well. A sliver of smoke, embers and charred oak. But what happened to the Springbank character? Taste: Sweet and dry with a tinge of earthy smoke and some cracked black peppercorns. More of the sweet, sometimes acidic influence from the Pedro Ximénez cask, similar to the aromas described above. It’s not unbalanced, but not exactly well integrated either. Finish: More of the same with a hint of dark chocolate. Long too.
It's almost like a glass of sherry with a few drops of Springbank. I thought the 2019 Open Day bottlings was heavily sherried, but this takes the cake. It's far from undrinkable, but I personally find a finishing of this kind almost criminal. You should not be allowed to completely destroy a spirit's character. I'm willing to bet quite a large sum of money that this was much, much better if they'd had just forego the two years in the Pedro Ximénez casks.