The Kintyre peninsula a century ago was the biggest whiskey producing region in Scotland with over 30 distilleries. When Prohibition hit that all changed and now there are really only two: Glen Scotia and Springbank (although Springbank is starting up subsidiary brands at a good clip - up to four now: (the other three are Longrow, Hazelburn, and the just formed Kilkerran)). This story fascinated me when I first got into single malts and Springbank became a staple in my cabinet. The complex mix of sweet, spice, and maritime aspects seduced me. I found the 12 heavily overshadowed by the older expressions, however. Time to revisit this assessment.
Color - pale gold, almost straw.
Nose - raisins, dried figs, rancio (brandy rot), butter and a twist of citrus.
Elegant sweet entry with honey, fresh grapes, and honeysuckle flowers. Light heathery lacy mouth feel. Midpalate hits with white pepper, malt (like fresh powdered malt), some acid like white balsam and some sea brine and distant iodine. There are also citrus and conifer notes. The finish is moderately short with lingering flowers and vines but also a bit of cardboard and then a bitter sap note at the end.
It's very complex but lacks the depth and the richness of the black fruits that grace the older expressions. This is particularly noticeable in the short snap of the finish. The upside is the delightful floral nature of the opening.
I'm a bit conflicted. This is a light heathery floral dram with some Dalwhinny or Royal Lochnagar mountain meadows and flowers and also a hint of sea air and brine - as advertised. However this whiskey feels awfully young for a 12 year old. It seems Springbank benefits from more time in the wood. I recommend you save up for the 15 or the 18 unless you have an academic interest in how the younger expression enhances the floral opening.
3 and 3/4 stars ***+. I long to go 4 because of the honey floral glory of the opening. If you keep sipping pretty quickly you can keep that glory up most of a glass - but the parting view is less pretty. The 12 is like a maiden with a gloriously beautiful face and gleaming golden hair but an unattractive derrière. You have to think twice. (Lord, forgive me for that metaphor).