Springbank 20 Years Old Antique Lions of Spirits Savannah Series 48% 1998
|Cask Type||Sherry Cask|
Serge Valentin (87)
ALOS used to stand for Antique Lions Of Spirits or something, it’s the brainchild of our friends the power trio Diego, Jens and Max, the ZZ Tops of whisky. Colour: gold. Nose: I may have said it before, very characterful spirits and sherry casks do not always tango well, because it’s very difficult to get the balance right. That’s why some ‘empty’ spirits such as grain whiskies can be perfect in sherry, since they wouldn’t fight it anyway. So, what I was trying to say was that Springbank and sherry (or any other wine casks by the way) may just fail, and we’ve tasted many examples. Now when balance is right, you could be in for a total treat. In this case, imagine some miso soup with a little mint essence, roasted chestnuts, cured ham, linseed oil, soot, brake fluid, and walnut oil. Sounds good? Mouth (neat): not too sure. Since when can you smoke oranges using exhaust fumes? Or roast lemons over pinewood? Or throw thousands of black olives into a sherry butt (while no one’s watching)? So we’re a bit on the fence here, but let’s reward singularity! Finish: rather long, rather meaty, oily… And isn’t there some ale in the aftertaste? Comments: I prefer my Springbanks naked, but let’s be clear, this one works too.
The not-cask-strength ABV (my guess) makes itself known in the way that this is a fairly timid whisky. There’s a complex nose of the Springbank funkiness, but there’s also some fresh apples and grapes. The sherry adds mostly spices and a touch of bitterness. There are some dates in the background. A whiff of something meaty too.
The arrival is very gentle, with a hint of dryness but virtually no heat. Quite fruity, with dates and plums, but also stewed apples. A bitter touch from the sherry cask along with baking spices. Clove, cinnamon, black pepper. The dryness increases with time, as does the bitterness. Almonds, plum stones.
The finish goes more towards the sherry than the nose made me expect. There’s lots of dried fruit going on, as well as baking spices. A hint of the feinty Springbank spirit, but the sherry cask is getting the overhand.
I feel, especially towards the finish, that the cask got the overhand and trumped the spirit. Which is a shame since anything ‘trump’ isn’t good, and Springbank’s spirit is already kick-ass. A bit of an overactive cask, I think.
Still, this is a cracking drink, but not as good as I hoped it to be. What also doesn’t help is that THIS COSTS € 500! That’s just way too much for what this is.
Springbank 20, 1998-2018, Sherry Cask, 48%, Antique Lions of Spirits – Savannah Series*
*Savannah Series. With an orangutan on the label. Because they are well known creatures of the Savannah.