I get the feeling that a lot of people mistakenly think it is easy to make whisky or spirits in general. They give me the impression that they think it’s very easy to make good whisky. Simply put the distillate in a cask, and then wait. It’s as if the cask is this magical container that will automatically make everything really better. Not really.
If the universe were that simple, then maybe I should just open a restaurant? I could simply hire inexperienced and maybe even incompetent staff. I could give them shit quality ingredients. Have them cook using costly kitchen equipment. Perhaps the expensive equipment will make all dishes taste like they’re from Michelin star establishments. I’d just sit back and relax as this magical and genius formula churns out delicious dishes and of course cash.
If making alcohol were so simple, then why did it take us centuries to slowly improve or learn more about the production process? Do people really think we are already at the pinnacle of alcohol production? Where is the respect for raw materials? Fermentation? Water? Type of yeast? Length of fermentation? What kind of washback? Open-air, or closed air fermentation? Distillation? The number of times distilled? The type of still? How about the cuts? Steam heated or direct flame? Proof of the spirit after distillation? Entry proof of spirit into a cask? Climate? Angel’s share? Size of cask? Type of wood? How long was the wood seasoned? How was the wood seasoned? The number of times the cask was used? Progressive dilution? Instant dilution? Any resting of the spirit?
At what point did humanity become so full of themselves? When did it become okay to have to audacity to dismiss the product of a complex and dangerous process as simple? When did it become acceptable to spend tons of money on something one knows very little about? Aside from the heavy marketing, paid for awards and instant approval of fellow ignorants.
It is simple to drink whisk(e)y, but it’s not simple to truly appreciate it. I don’t think everyone really takes the time and effort to train their senses to pick up every nuance of a spirit. I guess with the rise of snowflakes, the quote: “a person is smart. People are stupid” really is true. People who have things to say, end up keeping quiet or swayed to think otherwise by peer pressure. The deep and proper discussion has been diluted down to high fives and agreeing to disagree niceties.
How are any of these parts of the process supposed to be simple? Changing a factor at any point of this process will surely alter the final result. Yet, something is changed all the time. But we instantly believe it, when a brand says nothing will change. Because, you know, the cask will fix all that. Don’t worry about a thing.
Just for fun, I’m going to take some of that stupid and naive logic. I have concocted some theories that make myself sound like Einstein, just like those who think themselves geniuses for thinking whisky is a mere simple drink.
People who like eating innards and offals will most likely prefer “dirty” or hipster spirits like Mezcal and funky rum. They will be more on the adventurous side. Bartenders and brands will have an easier time selling hipster spirits and cocktails to them.
Customers who like dishes like steak, salmon and anything with truffles are the bandwagon boys. These are the loathed Edrington and other nonsensical brand fanboys. More of hype than logic. These are consumers swallowed by a system meant to cater to the followers who want to exude champagne wishes and caviar dreams.
Anyways, now that my theory lesson is over. I’ll present you with a whisky that was once a holy grail of mine. This Springbank 10 year 100 proof has sadly been discontinued. Despite the youth, it is easily one of the best Springbanks and single malts I’ve ever had. Is there a simple way to answer or guess why this Springbank is so good? I bet simply drinking this whisky won’t give all the answers.
Springbank 10 year old 100 proof – review
Color: pale ale.
On the nose: Ethanol. Hints of peat and smoke. Dried seaweed mixed with a damp, grassy and herbal smell that reminds me of the time I wandered about in the Meiji Shrine Garden. Some hints of incoherent tropical fruits like peaches, melons and bananas. Followed by vanilla, honey and something like a very sweet mango dipped in condensed milk.
In the mouth: More evident peat and smoke. Some tobacco, leather, herbal notes, vanilla, honey and more tropical fruits like peaches, strawberries, bananas and melons. A few surprising notes that come in the form of grapes, raisins, sultanas and very weak sulfur. The herbal notes become a bit more expressive. I get sage & thyme. Followed by more vanilla, melon and honey.
This is not a simple drink. I remember Springbank being often referred to as a malt not meant for beginners. All newbies who have tried this don’t like it. They called it harsh and strong. I can see why. The flavors aren’t the most approachable. The lowest ABV one will get out of the OB range is 46%. This isn’t what one would simply call “smooth”.
I wish I finished this bottle sooner. It seems that the peat and smoke have faded away. Or maybe I’m just more used to peat and smoke now compared to before? That with the added complexity of whatever I got was really good. I would have given that a score of 9/10.
This is still pretty good though. There’s so much complexity and layering in this. From herbal to floral to sweet flavors. How often does one get this much complexity in a 10 year old? It may be a simple task to put this in your mouth and swallow it. But it takes a developed palate to really appreciate complex whisk(e)y like this.