Saturday 22 October 2022

Tasted #600: Springbank 50yo 1919 (TimeforWhisky 10 Year Anniversary Dram)

Well here we are...10 years to the day since's very first post! Over 630 articles, 600 Tasting notes, and more amazing experiences than I ever thought possible....and still going strong!

Coinciding with this momentous occasion, Tasted Post #600 had to be something special (after all, the past 100's included a 65yo Lalique Macallan50yo OB Balvenie & 60yo Glenfarclas). Any of the previous 9 "10th Anniversary" whiskies would have been sufficient...but hey, milestones like this don't come along all that often - this whisky had to be something really special.

...and to that end, I present the Springbank 50 Year Old 1919. Filled into cask on 29th Dec 1919 (just 13 months after the end of WW1), and bottled on 25th Nov 1970, this whisky slumbered away in oak throughout the entire World War II, the moon landing, the Vietnam War, the first nuclear explosion...I could go on.

It's pretty incredible to try any 50 Year Old whisky, but to think this was distilled almost 100 years before I tried it....astounding.

As with several of the "10th Anniversary" whiskies over the past 10 days, this whisky was tasted thanks to the generosity of a fellow whisky lover (@whisky_is_better_aged again), at Hong Kong's WhiskyNow 2019. I'd just tried a different Springbank 50 Year Old (Millennium Collection, pictured below) when @whisky_is_better_aged mentioned he had something special under the table, and gestured for my glass.

When this 1919 Springbank was pulled out, I realised "something special" was an a bit of an understatement...

The bottle itself doesn't mention the year of distillation, but Emmanuel Dron's excellent "Collecting Scotch Whisky" tome has the accompanying letters which came with the bottle in 1970, detailing the key dates and figures. Of particular note is this whisky was bottled at 66.3 proof, or roughly 37.8% ABV - i.e. by today's standards, it couldn't legally be called Scotch whisky!

A distillery re-bottling of this sold for an incredible £183,500 less than a year ago, and though this original "Pear Shaped" Springbank 50 Year Old hasn't quite achieved such lofty prices, it's certainly incredible rare and valuable.

Springbank 50 Year Old 1919 Pear Shaped Bottle (66.3 proof (~37.8% ABV), 50yo, Campbeltown, Scotland)
Colour: Dull orange-gold.

Nose: Ok, well this is unlike any whisky I've nosed before. There's a dustiness, some earth-laden smoke, a herbal oiliness and some Vicks lozenges. It's...a spirit. I wouldn't immediately necessarily say whisky. It's complex, and lovely to nose, it's just...very unusual!

Dusty lemon tart with a freshly baked crust is my initial impression, followed by drying oak with a slight oiliness. Black jelly babies, a certain "barnyardiness" and camfourwood follow, before the dusty, earthy smoke of the nose re-appears. A mixed bag of flavours!

Short to medium in length, with overripe lemons, residual oak and a lingering forrest floor earthiness.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100. Subtle, understated, yet equally complex and baffling. On the whole though, an enjoyable whisky and an immensely satisfying experience.

Not the 1919...but another Springbank 50 Year Old (Millennium Collection) tasted on the same day.
(Yes, it was a good day...)

Well there we have it, 600 Tasting notes and 10 years. Hendy and I look forward to bringing you the next decade of eventstasting Notes and whisky news...and who knows maybe one day we'll even update this ancient website!

Thanks for reading / following - it really means a lot.


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