When on holiday in France, several weeks ago, I was having a quiet afternoon. It was about 35 degrees (C, obviously), the kids and my wife were at the camping’s swimming pool. I decided it was a good time to sit back under a tree for shade, and have myself some whiskies.
I decided it was a good time to have all seven of the current series of Springbank Local Barley. Seven whiskies, on a hut summery afternoon. As you do…
Most of them have already been reviewed before on this blog, but I decided to do a little re-review without checking previous notes and ratings. Just to see whether or not they hold up. Expectations were high, very high. Let’s see how this went.
Springbank 16, 1999-2016, Prisma Barley from Low Machriemore Farm, 54.3%
Coastal and oily, with barley, oak, salinity, hessian and typical Springbank funkiness.
Gentle with a whiff of smoke, coastal salinity, barley, straw, olive oil.
A rich and smooth finish, with some apple, pear, white pepper. A whiff of smoke, hessian and SB funk.
Balance, and awesomeness. It really does hold up after the initial hype. Great, great whisky.
Springbank 11, 2006-2017, Bere Barley from Aros Farm, 53.1%
More bright, and much more lemony. Still quite Springbank, with a bit more peaty scents upfront. Vanilla, with oak and aome barley.
Some white pepper for a bit of heat, more oak than on the nose. Also vanilla and barley, some apple too.
The finish is quite a bit younger tasting than the 16, logically. It’s very noticeable, though. A but more harsh, but still very Springbank.
A very solid whisky, but there’s more focus on vanilla. Lovely lemon notes. All in all, very good stuff.
Springbank 10, 2007-2017, Belgravia Barley from West Backs Farm, 57.3%
More dark and dried fruits, plum paste and date milkshake. Slightly nutty too, and apricot jam.
Sweet, with quite some pastry notes on top of fruit and vanilla. A whiff of smoke, straw, barley and oak too.
A bit of bitterness like plum stones, date stones and such. Straw, plums, dates, vanilla and pastry cream. A ‘pain aux raisins’
Lots of interesting flavors going on, with a good backbone of classic Springbank notes.
Springbank 9, 2009-2018, Optic Barley from High Cattadale Farm, 57.7%
Back to the slightly more austere bourbon focused ones with this one. Rather different than before with more minerals, apple and iron. It brings out a different kind of coastal note.
Some vanilla, but not a lot. The same with white pepper. Oak, barley, some mineral notes like slate, basalt, iron too. Again, quite austere.
The finish is more mellow, and a bit on the short side. Similar to the palate, but slightly less focused on the austerity.
Very coastal with lots of austerity. A very tight whisky, but also a little less complex because of it.
Springbank 10, 2009-2019, Optic Barley from High Cattadale Farm, 56.2%
Strangely, the port casks bring a bitbof unexpected weight, even though there’s only 3% of them in the mix. Dried fruits and old, soaked wood. Dried red fruits, on top of the earlier sherry and bourbon lead notes.
A lot darker, more woody, and quite different. Old, wet wood, mulch. Some dried lemon and orange, pastry cream, baked plums. Quite gentle, all of it
The finish is very gentle and quite rich. Fruit, dried tropical stuff and fresh berries. Cake, oak.
A minor addition of port casks to the mix makes for a rather different whisky. It does add quite some fruity notes, in a very typical way for port casks.
Springbank 10, 2010-2020, Belgravia Barley from Glencraigs Farm, 55.6%
Ah, the dark one!
This is very different, and definitely a sherried Springer. Leather and furniture polish, lots of feinty notes, all in a good way. Dried plums and dates and figs. Very rich indeed with a treacly note too.
A lot drier than expected with ground chilli peppers, oak, some sandalwood and cedar, even. Dried fruits, some slightly waxy notes.
The finish mellows quickly, but stays warming and intense. Dried fruits, some matches, wax, pepers and different woods.
Glorious! This whisky was ridiculously hyped, a while ago. But it does hold up! I am very glad I was able to get a bottle of this. It’s definitely a sherry cask, but it’s not a straight forward whisky. Various wood notes, peppers and fruits keep this very interesting!
Springbank 10, 2011-2021, Belgravia Barley from Glencraigs Farm, 51.6%
A very quintessential springbank, with all the typical notes of barley, straw, salinity, oak and a touch of smoke. Like the regular 10 year old on steroids.
The palate is slightly sweet before the peppery heat kicks in. All the notes from the nose come by, with added white and black pepper, and a waxy note. Very straight forward, but very good because of it.
The finish has a bit of an afterburner, but is, again, highly consistent.
On of the younger ones and the one lowest in ABV, and because it is so close to regular Springbank it is awesome. As in, this is exactly what you want a Springbank whisky to do, and it does it so very well.
As far as tastings go, I think this is a hard one to top this year. Of course, it would have been more fun to share this with someone, before people start the whole ‘whisky is more fun when shared’ schtick. They’re not wrong, but having a quiet afternoon, nice weather and awesome booze. And, maybe most importantly, some peace and quiet is hard to top…