Springbank 12 Claret Wood [Via Allegro Review Set #1]

WARNING: Take this review with a grain of salt. Reason below. TL;DR – Drank a peated whisky before it. Skip to where I say “On to the dram”.

You see, this is the second whisky I reviewed at Via Allegro. This was chosen by me.

You see, when I was offered the last dram, I didn’t realize that because it was peated, I had crossed the peat barrier. That make believe barrier I made up when I review whisky.

Once crossed, and this was later pointed out to me by the experienced, knowledgeable, and great whisky expert, one should not go back. Like drinking wine, there’s an order to these things that we should follow.

That said, prior to reviewing the Springbank 12 Claret Wood, I ate lots of bread (without butter or oil), had many glasses of water, and meditated on my mistakes. Once I felt that the peat influences were mostly gone did I start reviewing this.

I may be off though, so again. Take this all with a grain of salt.

On to the dram.

Springbank 12 Claret Wood is one of Springbanks experiments. They took their standard dram and aged it for 9 years. Nothing too crazy there. Then they put it into fresh Claret casks.

For me, this blew me away. For instance, I didn’t know what Claret was, so whatever they did sounded like it was cool. And French sounding. And for all I knew, a small woodland animal.

In case you’re interested, Claret is a red wine from Bordeaux. Now that’s a word (even a collection of words) that I, a philistine, know! And the reason for not just saying Bordeaux? Well Claret is an English term that dates back to a dark rose that was exported to England.

Now it’s a protected term for a red Bordeaux wine, so it all makes sense. As long as you read about it.

Well I’ve enjoyed what Springbank has done with red wines in the past, so let’s see if I enjoy it now, shall we?

Price: N/A in Canada anymore

Region: Campbeltown

Distilled: May 1997

Bottled: Feb. 2010

Cask Types: 9 years in refill bourbon barrels, 3 years in fresh Claret casks

Outturn: 9360 bottles

Abv: 54.4%

Colour: 5YR 6/12

Nose: Roses, caramel, grape, mace, fresh walnut bread, blackberry

Initially this smells like I’ve been poured some odd type of Lowland that wondered into the wrong bar.

Once the floral aspects subside, there’s quite a bit of spice, fresh bread, and fruit going on. Takes some time to open up, even with the high strength, which I’m quite thankful for. It’s a nice nose, though confusing at first.

Taste: Currant, black pepper, nutmeg, graham cracker, light smoke, steak, vanilla

Strong. The slight amount of peat in Springbank mixed with the red wine leaves quite a bit of pepper and spice notes. Lots of vanilla from the ex-bourbon cask.

A bit hot for me, and compared to the last dram, I really have to search out the different notes beyond the black pepper. It’s nice, but needs time. This is not a dram to have with dinner, as you’ll forget to eat or forget to drink it. Unless you can do that pat your tummy thing while rubbing your head. Weirdo.

Finish: Caramel, red grapes, nougat, ginger, vanilla wafers

The finish doesn’t live up to the nose or the subtle flavour. Instead it’s quite sweet. I’m not getting a lot of the red wine.

Also it’s a short finish. One and done, 3 minute man, sorta deal. Leaves me wanting for more.

Conclusion: All in all, I wish there was a little bit more oomph. More time in the red wine, more time in the casks overall, and more finish. The nose writes a cheque that the taste mostly pays off and the finish goes to debtors prison for.

Don’t get me wrong, this is up to the standards of Springbank. It has that lovely fruit and smoke mix I love from them. It just needs more. It falls short too many times. Lovely to try.

Or maybe I blew my tongue out on the first dram. We’ll never know. May re-review it again to make sure.

82/100

Scotch review #520, Campbeltown review #28, Whisky Network review #852

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