Whisky Odyssey
Old-fashioned with a twist of the modern 

Springbank’s Palo Cortado: a beastly creation

Another Campbeltown Wednesday and today we taste a regular Springbank. A bold series by the distillery highlighting various sherry maturations. Last year there was the rather hefty PX matured 10 years old, followed this year by a Palo Cortado expression. The allocation of these bottles to The Netherlands is strict, so you have to have a good relationship with your retailer. I have heard stories of retailers reaching out to their (regular) customers with the offer of a ‘special prize’. And this prize would then easily be triple of that of the recommended RRP. I have an opinion about that, but I think you can fill that in for yourself. One could call it a Springbank Curse, something the distillery is worried about too. We, as customers who like to drink a good glass, can only do one thing to make things right: leave those retailers be. Not only in this instance, but also with your other business.

Now, after this, let’s taste the liquid that warranted the intro.


Springbank Palo Cortado Cask Matured, aged 10 years, bottled at 55 % abv

Makeup: Matured for 6 years in bourbon casks before being transferred to Palo Cortado Sherry Casks for 4 more years of maturing. Distillation happened in July 2013. Exactly 10.200 bottles are available.

General impressions: As I understand it, Palo Cortado is a rather schizophrenic type of sherry. To quote Ruben Luyten of SherryNotes, “it is a Amontillado on the nose, Oloroso in the mouth”. In any case, the people in Campbeltown can be pleased, because this Springbank has indeed the typical funkiness that defines the character of the region.
The smells rising from the glass are equally torn between all kinds of directions. I definitely pick up some mineral qualities that check all the normal Springbank boxes. With water it becomes more traditionally fruity to nose. You can almost imagine standing next to the casks it came from.

Taking a sip, there is an immediate dry attack on the tongue. Cream, some delicate rubber (not as an off-note), nutmeg and clove. The finish also seems to go in all directions. First you get a distinct waxy note, almost as if sipping a sherried Clynelish, but then there is cigar. Inhaling too deep and you will start coughing like smoking that cigar. The one that you did not cut right, so some leaves stick to your tongue. My oh my, this Springbank is a beastly creation, I have to say. Unbalanced, to be sure, but making up for it in sheer entertainment. Water makes this Springbank a lot sweeter, showing a more gentle side.

Conclusion: An absolute mess, but what a delicious mess. Only Springbank could release such an un-commercial whisky. A true testament to the Campbeltown character. To me, it misses just a tad of balance, and there are some surprising contrasts, but this is and remains a bottle to be played with over and over again, to discover all its secrets.

Score: 89 points

Disclaimer: taken from a self-bought sample from the Springbank Tasting Pack – November 2023, at the Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown.

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