Springbank Claret Wood Review

Springbank Claret Wood

54.4% abv

Score:  90.5/100


A brief introduction to the Springbank Distillery:

Springbank, one of only three distilleries in Campbeltown, is renowned for its independence and tradition.  All aspects of whisky production – from malting through bottling – are done at the distillery in Campbeltown.

Springbank have never chill filtered, nor colored, their whisky.  Interesting to note as well, that the Springbank Distillery produces, by various methods, three distinct single malts (Hazelburn, Longrow and of course, Springbank).

At one time there were more than 30 legal distilleries in Cambeltown.  Sadly, that number has dwindled to three.  On a positive note however, the Springbank family are doing things to make themselves stand out.  Their fierce independence and traditional methods are heroically admirable in an age of increased automation.  Technique and old world morality mean less than nothing though if the whisky is not up to scratch.  I am happy to say that is nowhere near the case with Springbank.

This particular whisky has moved around a wee bit throughout the course of its maturation.  Born in the stills of Springbank, it was casked for 7 years in bourbon, moved to claret (bourdeaux) casks for 3 years, then into sherry wood for 2 more before finally finding a home in the bottle.  And just as I find that someone well-traveled is often a much more rounded individual, this whisky seems to have greatly benefited form its nomadic existence.

The years in wood have been very kind, imparting a beautiful deep mahogany hue.  Those with a bent to the aesthetic in their whisky will certainly admire this in the glass.  Sexy.

Those with a more…utilitarian approach will be tickled pink at the 54.4% abv, and hefty mouth feel.  It is uber-rich and oily with a beautiful coating quality.

The nose is sweet and redolent of caramel toffee, chocolate and vanilla well met with some smoke and spicy peppers.  There is a bit of fruit, predominantly apple, as well.  Beautiful, really.

The palate is more than pleasing, but can’t quite meet the expectations set by the nose.  The smoke and sweetness are still apparent, and pushed to the forefront through the heavy alcohol.  Delicious, if not quite up to its olfactory counterpart.

One of the great releases in the Springbank line.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

6 thoughts on “Springbank Claret Wood Review

  1. David

    I tried this about a year ago and was not very impressed. But a couple of nights ago I was trying to decide what t choose from my open bottles and decided to give it a try again. WOW! It seems like a year later it’s a completely different whisky, or I have a completely different palate. I would definitely call it an excellent dram.

    1. David

      I thought I would never see this in a store again, as it was a one off, but I was in the main Crowfoot liquor store in Calgary and I saw a half dozen. I was very pleased…only in Alberta. Now I can go back to my open bottle with the knowledge there’s another one tucked away for a rainy day.

      Had a 15% off coupon as well, so it was a lot cheaper than the first one I bought. We also got a Laddie 10 and some other spirits at the same time to maximize savings.

  2. skeptic

    I must admit to being extremely impressed with the 12 yo cask strenghthers I’ve tried. Can’t decide if I prefer this one or the standard non-finished.

    Then again…why choose? Probably best to enjoy them to their fullest on separate occasions.

    I know the regular 12 YO is available in Canada (25% cheaper in Calgary than Ontario!), but does anyone know if the Claret wood is still available? I feat I have but 1-2 tastes of each left, fewer if I share, which I do.

    Anyone know of any cheap flights to Alberta?

  3. David

    Stroke of luck!

    My brother in law and I stopped by a small independently owned liquor store in NW Calgary and they had 2 bottles of this (one now)! I thought my spare bottle was the last I’d ever see of it.

    Still no sign of the old Springbank 12 YO CS. Has anyone tried the new one (about 58%)? Is the taste profile similar? I tried the 12 CS single cask and found it very different.

    1. David

      Oops…no more claret wood left. I convinced my brother in law to snap it up.

      I bought a CS 12 yo on spec. If I like it I’ll ask my in law to pick up another.

  4. Skeptic

    Apparently the distillery denies any intention to discontinue the original CS. I guess it was just the LCBO discontinuing carrying it. Good times….


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