I hinted in my previous Springbank review about an upcoming review of another special Springbank whisky, so you probably aren’t surprised that …. here it is! This is a bottle from the Duncan Taylor Single Series, a release of a Springbank 20 year-old whisky that was distilled in December 1993 and bottled March 2014. This whisky was matured in sherry cask #635275 and is bottle 40 of only 63 total bottles produced.
About Springbank Distillery
I won’t go into much detail about the Springbank Distillery as I have quite a bit of good information in the previous Springbank review (here) and also in the Hazelburn review (here) from awhile back. What I will say is that Springbank is a fantastic distillery, remaining family owned, producing their whiskies from malting to bottling on site, and with an admirable commitment to their community through the jobs the distillery provides and the charities it supports . And to top it off, they make some great whiskies!!
Duncan Taylor was founded in Glasgow in 1938 as a cask broker and trading company. Over time, and through the relationships that they developed, the company established an extensive inventory of maturing casks of whisky from distilleries across Scotland, including distilleries now closed.
Purchased by Euan Shand in 2001, whose experience in the industry has included stints at the Glendronach distillery, William Teacher’s & Sons, and The Bennachie Whisky Company, Duncan Taylor moved to he town of Huntly in Aberdeenshire, established a bottling plant, and soon shifted their focus from brokerage to that of an independent bottling company.
About the Duncan Taylor website:
Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky Limited’s new ‘Single’ range continues the company’s long history of bottling Single Malt and Single Grain Whiskies from some of Scotland’s finest distilleries. The majority of the whiskies in the ‘Single’ range are at least 30 years old, or from distilleries that are no longer producing whisky. Bottled from a Single Cask, at Cask Strength, presented in a handsome leather and hardwood case, as rich and luxurious as the whisky it contains.
The Duncan Taylor Whisky Collection includes a number of lines of malt and grain whiskies including: The Rarest, The Tantalus, the Duncan Taylor Single Range, Dimensions, and The Octave Collection, as well as the Battlehill line. They also produce various blends such as the Black Bull line, The Big Smoke Range, Loch Ness, Whisky Galore, Scottish Glory and Auld Reekie.
Review: Duncan Taylor Springbank 20 year-old
From the Duncan Taylor Single range of whiskies, this Springbank 20 year-old whisky was distilled 12.1993 and bottled 03.2014. It was matured in Sherry Oak, Cask #635275, and comes from bottle 40 of 63. I did a bottle share on this whisky with Derek and Sorin, two friends who are extremely invested in conducting adequate whisky research!!
Color: Dark mahogany with red tints.
Nose: A surprisingly, almost overtly fruity nose full of ripe orchard fruits and tropical fruits – papaya, mango. There is an underlying delicate vanilla and a rich, bold sherry influence – likely Fino or Amontillado sherry as it is a dry, somewhat nutty sherry note. Some cocoa powder, a dose of baking spices, hints of cloves and cumin, white raisin. Despite its sherry maturation, on the nose, this is not a particularly sweet whisky. With water, the nose remains focused on the sweet-spiced fruits, now with a hint of brine, toasted walnuts, maybe a delicate wisp of smoke, but it generally continues the same path.
Taste: The arrival shows a much sweeter profile. On arrival, the fruits are overripe, rich, syrupy or “jammy” – very dense on the palate. The mid-palate shows more of the obvious sherry flavors (first fill cask?) – but, again, it seems more like a “dry” sherry. There is a delicate ashy/sooty aspect toward the end. Quite a beautiful whisky! There is really no overt alcohol burn even at the high abv. The addition of water adds a bit of a tangy bite, lime juice, and it becomes more ashy and dry, and now there is a bit more saltiness on the tongue.
Finish: The finish starts on the sweet-side of the fruits and vanilla, moves into the herbal/baking spices, then shows that interesting salty, drying, and softly soot note at the end. A very enjoyable, and very long, finish.
Overall: First off, let me say that this is a very good whisky, even though it really didn’t come across as a typical Springbank. While there is a subtle hint of the minerals and machine oil that I commonly find in Springbank, these aspects were very much tertiary to the experience. Throughout, There are the overt,prominent sherry notes. It was a little tight when freshly opened bottle, but with some time and air it expand more, offering a lot of complexity. The issue is that even though this is a very good whisky, for me, the price point is simply too high (following the rapidly escalating pricing trajectory we seem to be seeing from all across the category). At circa $400 per bottle, you get….a 20 year-old whiskey. Yes, this is cask strength, bottled at 55.7%, but the Official Bottling Springbank 21 year-old, bottled at 46%, and is quite a bit less expensive, with pricing in the mid $200’s. Yes, this Duncan Taylor bottling comes in an exceptionally nice box, with faux-leather, polished oak, and brass fittings, but this rather extravagant (and totally unnecessary) packaging probably adds quite a bit to the cost. I could do without the box if the price would improve. That being said, I’m rating this exclusive of the price, because this is a whisky review, after all….it just doesn’t really represent much in the way of value for the money.
Region: Campbeltown (Scotland)
Bottler: Duncan Taylor
Type: Single Malt
Age: 20 year
Maturation: Sherry Cask #635275
Price: $390 (Specs Feb-2015)
Availability: Still available – limited
Sample Source: My portion of a bottle share
Malt Whisky Yearbook 2014, Ingvar Ronde, MagDig Media, Ltd.