Comparing two expressions
Another week, another Blackadder Raw Cask, I really need to stay away from this bottler, their bottles are addictively good. On today’s menu, a young Springbank at cask strength, from 1995, bottled in 2005.
To make things a bit more interesting, I will compare it to an official 10yo bottling from 2010.
When I posted this review on Whiskyconnosr, I received some valid criticism, thus I incorporated my responses into this review.
The Blackadder is a single cask, cask strength whisky bottled at 58,4%, the Springbank (OB) at 46%.
Blackadder: burnished pale gold,reminds me of the Macallan Gold, though no colouring was added. Generally I would deduce that nice natural colour is distinctive of the American oak cask (however, it matured in a Sherry Pipe!). By God, how much cask residue can one miniature contain?
Springbank (OB): slightly darker: deep gold/amber; the range of colouring leans more towards red-brown
Blackadder: Eucalyptus, hints of vix rub, walnut oil and genever seasoned in oak casks. (with water added): no genever, more like brandy now and lamb roast with rosemary
Springbank (OB): Hints of salt, grain, smoked bacon, pine resin with a much more farmy quality to it
Blackadder: Dried oranges, tea, a whiff of peat. (with water added): But also fruity (unlike the nose suggested): apples, grapefruits and quinces, vine flowers, and salty liquorice.
Springbank (OB): Hints of orange and lemon, pepper, tea, hints of salt and wood scrapings, much more peat added to the mix and some spices lingering in the background.
Blackadder: Long and warm, but surprisingly dry and bitter, salt breaks through, replacing the earlier sweetness.
Springbank (OB): Long and pleasant, with notes of fresh peat, slices of lemon and rough grind pepper (no saltiness here)
|Not quite the same dram is it now? I think the official 10yo bottling is quite impressive actually, so young and vibrant. This is an entry-level malt that comes at a more than reasonable price and blows the competition from the same price-level completely away. But hey, we don’t expect anything less from the Springbank Distillery|
Now the Blackadder is something else. That both these drams come from the same distillery shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, they are obviously sisters. But the Blackadder developed quite a different nose and finish, I dare say that the bodies had a lot of elements in common, The menthol scents where something I had not encountered yet, but it proved to be essential for this tasty dram.
Who won? The Blackadder, but the official bottling came in a close second. The main advantage of the official Springbank was that only did cost a fraction of the price I paid for the Blackadder.
Criticism and Questions:
Which casks were used: The difference was probably made here. The Blackadder used a fresh amontillado pipe, so the contact with the wood was kept to a minimum. The Blackadder was also bottled from a single cask. The Springbank (OB) however is a vatting of both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks (no idea which types they used) in a ratio 60:40.
Does colour have a bearing on flavour?: The colour itself not per se, but it can be a valid indication of the influence of the wood and the cask’s previous contents. The pale golden colour is generally not something that you would expect from a malt matured in a ex-sherry cask, but given that it was a pipe, the contact from the whisk with the wood was kept to a minimum.
The official bottling most likely had much more contact with the wood. On a different note, the Blackadder is a raw cask, if they really did add the scrapings afterwards, it might have had its influence on the colour and the flavour.
Is it fair to compare the OB to a CS/SC malt: I guess not. There is an official bottling at cask strength out there: the “10yo 100 proof”, a malt with a strength of 57%. But these were matured solely in bourbon casks and unfortunately I do not own a bottle. This is no objective comparison.
What both have in common: distillery, distillation process, ingredients, age and not-predominant sherry cask influence.
What’s different: year of distillation, influence from bourbon casks, cask type (not sure which one they used for the official bottling), strength (although I watered the Blackadder significantly down) and vatted vs. single cask.
It was never meant to be a competition between whiskies that are each other’s equals. They are just two malts that have a lot of features in common and which are both in my possession.
Score: (OB):86 (Blackadder): 88
Feedback is always appreciated.