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Springbank 10 year old 100 proof

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.

Theory 1:
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.

Theory 2:
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.

Conclusions

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.

Score: 8/10

CategoriesSingle Malt
John
John

John is a cocktail and spirits enthusiast born and raised in Manila. His interest started with single malts in 2012, before he moved into rum and mezcal in search of malterntaitves – and a passion for travel then helped build his drinks collection.

  1. Graham
    Graham says:

    John,

    I am really enjoying your writing on here. In relation to this article I have two observations:

    1. On privilege and perceived arrogance here; I agree anyone who can spend £50 plus on a bottle of booze is very lucky even if they don’t feel wealthy. A 5%er.

    2. On whether someone is a whisky enthusiast if they enjoy Edrington Malts exclusively. Well of course they are. Complex whisky is like contemporary art; for each true fan there is another who likes it because of how it reflects back on them whether it’s makes them look smarter or more discerning. I’m sure it’s the same with food.

    The only qualification for being an enthusiast is being enthusiastic about the topic.

    Experts on the other hand learn more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

    1. John
      John says:

      Hi Graham,

      Just like Adam said in his most recent review, we are all lucky to be doing a luxurious thing. That said, I think we take our luck for granted too often. Our luck can make us complacent.

      I think you have guessed that most of the commentary above the actual review is satirical. This review was more of a reaction to a stupid and ass kissing whisky blog I read a few weeks back. I’m sure we recognize everyone progresses on their own pace.

      Agreed on the more we learn the more we realize we know less.

  2. Avatar
    Derek Mcarthur says:

    Hi.

    It took some time for me to appreciate the Springbank whiskies. My starter level was the Campbelltown loch blend and the Mitchell blend. Both at 40%. I gently graduated to the rest of the range. I particularly enjoy Springbank 15 year old and Longrow 18 year old.

    Regards
    Derek McArthur

    1. John
      John says:

      Hi Derek,

      It’s the same for me. My 1st Springbank was a Springank 12 CS around 6 years ago. Great to see your starter level whisky were great drams! Sadly, I’m not a fan of Springbank 15. And Longrows… mmm delicious.

  3. Avatar
    Adam Went says:

    I really enjoy malt-review and the variety of writers. I am not a moaner and don’t seek to be negative. But I have to say this piece has a very strong ‘neckbeard’ vibe to it!

  4. Avatar
    Andrew says:

    Hi John,

    I enjoyed the teeth in this one 😀

    On a (very) recent trip to Scotland I tried the Springbank 10 then picked up a bottle of the 15 t a very good price as I’d heard so much about it. I don’t consider myself as new to Whisky anymore (I prefer that term to begginer) but I’m by no means a veteran.

    The Springbank 15, now that I’ve tried it, changes with every sip, initially I wasn’t sure I liked it, it’s such a melange of flavours. Then it grew on me a bit.

    This is the best thing about Whisky – the challenge that can come as your taste developes over the years!

    1. John
      John says:

      Hi Andrew,

      This rather negative article was a reaction to an ass kissing and ignorantly dismissive whisky article I saw a few weeks back. It sounded stupid to me so I intentionally made this article quite absurd.

      Springbank 10 will always be in my hall of fame. It’s such a solid dram. The 15 though… I’ve never liked it regardless of the batch. There’s this very weird sand paper-ish texture that turns me off on it. I’m glad to hear more from people who like Springbank though!

      Yes. One’s palates continues to develop/mature/evolve as they drink on.

      Cheers

  5. Avatar
    Welsh Toro says:

    Nice one John, a very fine dram I’m sure. What can I say, I love offal, funky rum and Springbank – Farmyard cider too which has classic manure notes (I love the countryside). I’m a bit of a sucker, too, for salmon, steak and truffles (I liked truffle stuff before it was trendy – trips to Umbria and all that, honest gov). Strong and subtle flavours, we should be able to appreciate both. These qualities extend throughout our overall experience – music, art, literature and philosophy which are qualities that are invaluable to our well-being. There are days when I’m in the mood for a full on experience but I’m finding, more and more, that I love subtlety. Would love this Springbank of course. WT

    1. John
      John says:

      Hi WT,

      The theory part is me trying to be satirical. I love all of the things you mentioned as well. But a rather stupid article prompted me to write something absurd.

      Music, philosophy and literature I have learned and am learning to appreciate. But art is not something I have learned to appreciate yet. I am failing myself in that part. hehe.

  6. Avatar
    MaxHill says:

    Well, interestingly with all the smart ovens and instant pots your restaurant idea can be a reality today, anyone can cook like a pro with those.
    As for your question – from my memory some time between 2000 to 2010 mankind’s hubris really skyrocketed.

    1. John
      John says:

      Hi Max,

      For the respect for the ingredients and the customer’s time and money, I hope my idea won’t be reality. It’s scary.

      2000 to 2010… what do you think prompted this? More access to internet and social media? I’ll admit I didn’t notice it as I was in my teens then.

  7. Avatar
    Greg B. says:

    In my memory at least, the very best whisky I ever had was perhaps close to 20 years ago when I purchased (on clearance no less!) a Springbank gift set of 4 50ml samplers packaged in ceramic containers meant to look like tiny library books. One of those was a 21 year-old version. That was simply remarkable, the only whisky I ever had that went past the oft-noted “tropical fruits” notes into noticeable coconut flavors. Fantastic stuff. I have had other Springbanks since that were good, and a few that were disappointing, but nothing that came close to that one.

    1. John
      John says:

      WOW! A Springbank ceramic gift set? That’s something I’ve never seen in Asia or in the US. Those old stock must have been something special! You’re a very lucky one to have had Springbank a long time ago. I’m envious!

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