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Whisky Reviews

Springbank C.V. Single Malt (Circa 2010s) With Gold Label, 46% ABV

 

Not too long ago I visited PK Maltroom – one of the top whisky bars in Ho Chi Minh City with great hospitality and a nice range of spirits at prices that don't break the bank. 

This bottle is one of my proudest discoveries from the bar.

For the uninitiated, Springbank Distillery is one of the few remaining family-owned whisky producers in Scotland, and is notable for its commitment to traditional methods of whisky production, including floor malting (germinating barley by hand) and use of heritage barley. It is considered as a cult brand by whisky lovers for its ability to maintain its very distinct and complex flavour profile through the decades despite the modernisation seen in the rest of the Scotch industry.

 

(Image Source: Whisky Foundation)

 

The Springbank C.V. is the last-seen non-age-statement Springbank expressions. The series had been around since at least the 1990s when it had a white label, but has refreshed its look to a sleek black label that was then discontinued by the cult brand around 2013. Since then it has become something of a collectible item. 

A 1990s edition Springbank C.V.

 

“C.V.” stands for Curriculum Vitae, symbolising that the spirit is a concise summary of various batches of Springbank whiskies made at the distillery including various ages and various cask styles. Unfortunately, preciously little can be gleaned from the label of this bottling, so we fall back on some research and whispers about this bottling. The post-2010 bottlings of C.V. are a blend of 7, 10 and 14 year old whiskies from various casks including ex-bourbon, ex-Sherry and ex-Port casks that are selected by Springbank’s then-Director of Production Frank McHardy and Distillery Manager Stuart Robertson (credit to Whisky Notes for the details!).

The idea of this bottling is really to represent Springbank’s unique DNA and showcase the distillery’s blending expertise. 

Springbank C.V. Single Malt (Circa 2010s) with gold label, 46% ABV – Review 

 

Tasting notes

Nose: Right off the bat, you're hit with a bouquet of sweet, rich fruits – think apples and peaches with a dash of creamy vanilla. The initial sweetness is gently undercut by a hint of a rustic gameyness, reminding me of a countryside barnyard, which might sound odd but is exactly what fans of Springbank enjoy. As it evolves, the scent of pears or melons joins the fray.

This is super expressive and despite all that's going on, it's quite gentle on the nose.

Palate: The first thing I notice is how oily and unctuous this whisky feels in the mouth – it's slick and thick, like velvet. Opens with a lovely combo of sweet cream, apples, pears, and vanilla, topped with a dominate rich honey vibe.

The honeyed sweetness interplays very beautifully with more orchard fruits, while being spiced up by the Port and Sherry cask influences, raisins and toasted nuts. The rustic barnyard nuances and a slight funkiness reappear, alongside salted butterscotch, biscuits, and a subtle hint of light gasoline.

Finish: Long and memorable. I get smoked cheese, caramel, honey, and mint, and right at the very end there is some retro-nasal aromas of dark chocolate, light bonfire embers and a touch of sea salt.

 

 

My Thoughts:

I was really stoked to have discovered this Springbank C.V. It's packed with flavour, super aromatic, has all the good quirks of a Springbank and also doesn’t require you to sit through the high ABV of a 50+ % ABV cask strength whisky to access this level of flavour.

For me, it's up there as one of the best modern Springbanks I've had – and by modern, I mean anything post-2000s. It just nails the balance and integration of flavours.

I know there's some mixed chatter out there about the 2010s Springbank C.V., with folks saying it's either too subdued or not quite meshed together right. But from what I tasted, I'm sold. It could well be that this has been opened and been sitting for some time, especially considering the fill level of it - the amount of air in the bottle could have mellowed and melded the flavours more through oxidation. But I’m all for judging the whisky by its best performance.

This is a fantastic expression that just gets better with time, proving that sometimes, a little patience can make a good thing (or just an OK thing) much, much better.

My Rating: 8.5

Score/Rating Scale :

  • 9-10 : Exceptional, highly memorable, 10/10 would buy if I could.
  • 7-8 : Excellent, well above most in its category, worth considering buy-zone.
  • 4-6 : Good, okay, alright; a few flaws, but acceptable; not bad, but not my personal preference; still worth trying, could be a buy if the price is right.
  • 1-3 : Not good; really did not enjoy; wouldn't even recommend trying.
  • 0 : Un-scored, might be damaged, new make, or very unusual.

@CharsiuCharlie