Springbank is famously the principle surviving of two distilleries of the century-ago thriving region of Campbelltown in the Southwest. Springbank is famously independent, and also famously clings to old ways, such as malting their own barley and bottling their own whisky. They also produce Longrow. The Springbank flavor profile is, generally, sweet with raisins but also has some pepper and traces of maritime airs. No colorings are used and they tend to be rather light in color. Not this one.
The following bottle of Springbank 21 was purchased in the late 90s. This expression is no longer sold - a great loss to the world although, apparently the current 18 is excellent and in the same vein.
Color - rich golden yellow with amber tints
Nose - spicy sweet with white grape, sultanas, sherry, cognac rancio, pine sap, and demara sugars
Sweet and wine-like on entry - sautern without the syrup with a touch of tart acid like a chenin blanc or green apple. Black fruits: black raisin, fig and date notes dominate the transition to midpalate, which soon buzzes with wood spices, grapevine sap, sherry and oak. Finish is achingly long and sweet with vinous wood tannins, green apple tartness, and finally a sharp herbal bitter bite that has some pine and some angostura bitters quality. With extended air the fig and date sweetness waxes into a thicker mouthfeel and melts with the wood spice to form an austere and elegant form of grapey butterscotch and some lacy floral notes that whip me into flights of ecstasy.
It's an elegant, refined, and totally unique flavor profile that is clear kin to the Springbank 12 and 15 expressions - but amped up into something far more lush and filigreed. Wow. Sweet, tart, sour, and spicy all at the same time. What a monster.