May's Featured Spirit:
Old Rip Van Winkle 15 year Old Bourbon
I can't tell you how many times I've seen a bottle of Old Rip Van Winkle tucked behind a bar. It's striking in a demure sort of way. It's rather short and looks like an overgrown ink bottle. The label, which wraps nearly half-way around the bottle, appears brown with age. Flashiness, thy name is not Old Rip Van Winkle's bottle.
I wonder how many folks see
this and think- "Gads, I wonder how long that stuff has been sitting
back there. Probably as long as that crusty looking bottle of Creme de
Menthe." However, like an old, worn but very valuable book in a cardboard
box at a flea market, folks may pass it by, but this is a rare prize that
should be greedily snatched up.
1991 and 1967 Single Malt Scotches
A week or two back, a package
arrived via airmail. With UPS and Fed-Ex coming to my door regularly with
big boxes of alcohol to review, I was struck by this unassuming small
package with postal markings from the UK.
Here I review two of the four single malt scotches I received from Gordon Wright, whose family has owned Springbank Distillery since 1828.
Anyway, Springbank 1991 is
clear with very light golden tint. It is, perhaps, the lightest colored
scotch I've ever guzzled. Stick your snozz over a glass and you'll feel
little pricks of spiciness, and part of it is an alcohol ester. Knock
it back and you'll taste something that is nutty, grassy, briny, and has
notes of peat. After you swallow you get hit with a finish that lingers,
swathing your mouth in an oily feeling slightly smoky and salty grassy
taste. Impressive, especially for so young a scotch. (Rating***3/4)
Moving right along- Springbank 1967 also is 46% alcohol and it was aged in new bourbon barrels. Not surprisingly, this scotch has a that classic bourbon note- vanilla. But that's not all. Springbank 1967 is a complex creature, altogether different from the 1991 version. Springbank 1967 is much more robust and earthy tasting, with vanillans and a salty, oaky, taste. It finishes with light peat, some sweetness like that of raisins. (Rating ****1/2)
Murray-McDavid has also seen it fit to note on these labels that Campbeltown, where Springbank is distilled, aged and bottled,
"is infamous for the extraordinarily high number of pubs and churches per capita. It must be that its citizens, having consumed Scotland's best dram, feel the need to give thanks to the Almighty."
After today's tasting, I'm
giving thanks to both the Almighty and Gordon Wright. Springbank is a