Springbank 10yo (OB) vs. Blackadder Raw Cask 1995/2005

Comparing two expressions

No competition

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 Whiskies

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)


The Verdict

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.