Springbank. It seems everybody I have spoken to in the whisky world loves it! There are even clubs and groups dedicated to their following. Often I have heard that the favourite whisky of a tasting event is a Springbank… be it in the line-up or not. It’s just that good!
I remember the first time I tried the 12-year-old cask strength, circa 2013; it was beautiful! I was offered a sample, and it was so delicious that I wanted a bottle badly! The shop I was in did not have any left, which was unfortunate, as the friend I was with also wanted one. He had to settle for the ten-year-old instead, but I was only interested in the CS, therefore I declined. There was none available to sample that day and we had to go on blind faith, but what could go wrong?! The twelve was so lovely; the ten had to be decent.
The whisky was destined for a wee trip to Lochgoilhead, where a few of us had planned to drink in front of a roaring fire and to do some fishing over a long weekend. We had our friend’s family home to stay at and his dad’s rental boats to cut about in—it was perfect! Excitedly, that first night, we took out a few bottles to try: the newly acquired Springbank, an Old Pulteney 21-year-old and a Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban. The Glenmorangie was the first victim, and it was good; I enjoyed it. We opened the Springbank next. On that day, perhaps due to my immature palette, it was young, septic and sulphurous. (Remember, I began my whisky journey around this time). From what I remember, the furniture polish notes and youthfulness attacked my senses…
The Cask Strength now a distant memory, this 10-year-old had put me off the brand. It was too harsh for me. My friend was really disappointed, and the rest of us agreed: it was not so premium. We felt embarrassed for gushing about the 12-year-old; maybe we were mistaken, and it wasn’t actually that good. The Old Pulteney was a welcome final dram!
From that experience, I didn’t touch another drop of Springbank for nearly four years. Like the stubborn bull that I am, I refused to go near these whiskies, even though countless people told me how good it was. I received looks of shock every time I told someone I didn’t like Springbank (such blasphemy!), but I was set in my ways. One day, my partner Pete (fellow MALTee) went out and bought one, as they had a really good deal on at a shop, and we tried it once again. It was so tasty that we went and bought two more! That’s when I decided that I had to give whiskies more than one try, even if I disliked them the first time. Perhaps on that particular fateful night, we didn’t let our drams breathe enough and/or we were still fixated on the cask strength, which we had enjoyed so much. We weren’t being very fair.
Another factor: maybe it wasn’t the best the whisky could have been, as Springbank bottles have a reputation for being inconsistent… but in a good way! Fans chase these bottles in the hope that this year, it will be amazing! Even when it is lacking, it is still solid, and some whisky drinkers love that risk and uncertainty. You can purchase the Springbank 10 from the Whisky Exchange for £42.95, with Master of Malt coming in at a reasonable £39.90. Amazon will sell you a bottle for £44, but we always recommend supporting your local shop when possible.
Springbank 10-year-old, 46 % – review
On the nose: sweet and sour, classic Chinese flavours! Youthfulness often associated with newmake spirit (apple smash). Raw pickled potatoes and cherry-like, with hints of chocolate. Subtle furniture polish and dry ash. I detect sulphurous undertones with plastic and rubber; imagine opening up a new toy for a child. There is peated smoke that is not overpowering, a salty brine, and I detect something slightly medicinal. Fresh with morning grass and hay. A delicate citrus tang with a savouriness to it, almost like earthy mushrooms. Left to oxidise, there was white-fleshed fruit like apples, pears, and even creamy banana. There is a light pine and waxiness coming through. The sweetness is not unlike creamy butterscotch reminding me of banoffee pie.
In the mouth: it is slightly sweet with new wood. The pine from the nose really comes through. The mouthfeel is fresh and oily. Over time, the whisky became nutty and very waxy, like cashews and almonds. Slightly savoury and salty with a subtle smoke like wakame. Mildly spicy with a white pepper burn with silky buttery honey that soothes the back of the throat. The oaky woodiness gives the tongue a sensation of tannic numbness. The saline salty tang gives way to the dry ash smoke. It is creamy, almost like a thick fudge, and hints of oats come through. There is a tiny hint of bitterness to it, almost like when you eat seeded soft fruit and catch one of the seeds between your teeth. The finish is white and black pepper, spicy and warming. The mouthfeel remains very smooth with an oiliness and a medium-lingering peat and brine. I almost get a feeling of eating a nice hot porridge on a cold winter’s day, that thick resinous feeling you get after swallowing a mouthful. At the end, it becomes ever-so-slightly drying.
In my opinion, this whisky needs time to breathe, and with a few drops of water it can open up; but personally, I like to drink my whiskies neat! I definitely see why so many people enjoy the wares of Springbank, and I have finally joined the group of lovers, although I am not at the stage of “top fan.” I did boycott the brand for a long while, doing my bit to ensure there were more bottles to go around! This particular Springbank has gone full circle, and from hating it originally, I am now enjoying it. I like that it isn’t fully sherried: over time, I seem to be favouring whiskies that are matured in both bourbon and sherry casks, and this one hits the spot.
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