When I ran my own catering business, I took over from an existing one and kept most of the same dishes on the menu. There were a few meals that did not sell well initially and were actually very tedious to make for the price, so I did what a smart business person would do: make it more expensive and have the availability only at the weekends!
Lo and behold, that worked a treat as more people wanted to eat these dishes and they were worth my while to make because of the increased markup. The “limited availability” gave them an exclusivity that they did not have before. This to an extent happens within the whisky world. The fewer bottles there are, the more the appeal. If that whisky happens to be from a very reputable brand and sold at a very reasonable price then people will go gaga for it. You could probably think of a few off the top of your head!
Let’s ponder it together. What is the formula for a highly sought-after whisky release that is guaranteed to be sold out within seconds? Well, we could start with a brand that is loved by whisky drinkers and collectors alike. Then make it a particularly attractive annual release with limited stocks and to top it off make it a first of its kind full sherry release. Mix all of that together in a giant cauldron and what do we have? This year’s new release of Springbank Local Barley. After launching in Europe earlier in March it has finally been released in the UK on March 26th, 2021.
There are some topics in whisky that seem to be written and spoken about constantly, to the point where they become quite boring. I would say one of these is the struggle of any whisky fans to get their hands on new and limited releases. This has been an issue with some inaugural bottlings from new distilleries which are considered prime targets for flipping at auction to make a quick buck. It also happens with smaller producers with strong reputations; in the world of scotch there are few better examples than Springbank and its stablemates Longrow, Hazelburn, and Kilkerran.
I feel quite fortunate that I’ve never been much bothered with buying these types of whiskies. I have never felt the need to chase these covetable bottles because the chances of being let down are too high. If I’m lucky I will get a chance to try them later on as part of a tasting or maybe in a sample swap with friends. Obviously, I am lucky to be in Scotland and in a major city with lots of whisky chums nearby so this option might not be open to everyone. However, the explosion of online tastings has opened up opportunities for many who live in more remote parts of the world, which can only be a good thing.
On to the whisky in hand for today. I have had mixed experiences with Springbank in the past which I have written about before. Overall though I am a fan. I also have mixed feelings about heavily sherried whiskies. If they are at all sulphurous in a way where rubbery latex notes are present it puts me right off. Let’s hope the right balance has been struck with this local barley.
Springbank 10 Year Old, Local Barley Sherry Matured, 55.6% – Review
Colour: Shimmering umber.
On the nose: Sweet and dense dark brown muscovado sugar and fruity from dried raisins and dates soaked in prune juice. Moist and sticky fruit cake spiced with powdered cinnamon, ground ginger and a light dusting of ground cloves and white pepper. Dark and syrupy rich honey with orange peel and enriched with vanilla toffee. Salted caramel smothered in milk chocolate with fudge’y dates in the mix. As the liquid oxidises, deeper earthier notes such as ‘raw’ button mushrooms come out as well as something herbal and botanical on the breeze akin to a hint of juniper berries. The funky aromas of a workshop intermingled with a decadent Christmas cake. Sweet roasted chestnuts and baked yams. The sherry influence is strong in this one!
In the mouth: So very sweet with an extremely oily and chewy mouthfeel. All of the darker sugars play on the palate such as muscovado and Chinese brown sugar sticks (these are sticks of unrefined sugar directly concentrated out of sugarcane juice without removing the molasses). Viscous treacle with white pepper and lots of black pepper. Cinnamon sugar pretzels and ginger snap biscuits giving a bit of dryness on the tongue. Dried fruits from raisins and dates with a refreshing maritime brine. Citrus tangy sweetness is present with a sea har breeze. Citrus rinds giving a slight bitterness. Those earthy mushroom notes from the nose translate through.
Finishes long but, every so often, the flavour dries out; but because of the sweetness and oiliness of the liquid, it comes back. The ending goes through stages of moisture and dryness with a constant slow burn of pepper on the back of the throat. Balanced bitterness and sweetness all the way to the end.
Wow, what a very filling whisky. It is quite punchy up front but mellows out quite elegantly in a slow treacly kind of way. This is most definitely a dessert in a glass. It had none of those off-putting notes from sherried whiskies I dislike so much and instead was a rich and decadent dram. I was very lucky to have been given the chance to try this Local Barley at a club tasting and, as I usually only need a little to get my tasting notes, I shared my partner’s sample and had a full sample to return to at a later date from my own tasting set to make sure I came to the same conclusion (I shared this of course, I didn’t scam him out of a dram, ha!).
At just over £100 a bottle, would I buy one? Yes, I definitely would. However, just like most people out there, I haven’t been able to acquire one. I had put my name down for a lottery draw to come in with a chance of purchasing a bottle but, alas, lady luck was not on my side. I hope the people who have managed to secure a bottle will actually open and drink it. It is tasty and very more-ish, you will not be disappointed if you have similar tastes to me.
Photo courtesy of The Whisky Exchange; given this is a brand new release, this photo is of a prior version.