Campbeltown was once labelled 'The whisky capital of the world’. At one point there were 28 distilleries, though in 2017 little remains of all but three of these – Glengyle, Glen Scotia and Springbank. Of these three, Springbank is the only facility which has been in constant operation since the 1820’s and is also one of Scotland’s few distilleries which is still family owned. Three 'types of whisky are distilled at Springbank: Hazelburn which is unpeated and triple distilled, Longrow which is is heavily peated and double distilled. and Springbank itself which is lightly peated and described as being distilled two and a half times.
The 10 year old is the entry point to the Springbank core range (all of which proudly wear age-statements). It is a marriage of both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, though strongly favouring a higher proportion of bourbon casks. The entire core range has recently received a slight rebrand (and now looks similar to the 21 year old) in terms of the label and packaging design. There's no reason to believe that the liquid is any different, but for today's review we're looking at a 2016 bottling of the 10 year old.
Nose: Sharp green apples with a real steely mineral quality. Earthy grasses and freshly turned hay provide underlying vegetal notes and side alongside a gentle peat. This is not the type of smoky peat you’d associate with Islay, it’s both pungent, but also sharp, marrying up to the steeliness identified before. A tart lemon and biscuit note offers both additional complexity and a rather sweet and sour type aroma. There’s more than a hint of sea air about this, and some light acetone which I’d associate with a freshly opened pot of oil-based paint.
Taste: Viscous and oily mouthfeel which emphasises salty maritime malts – biscuits, maybe even shortbread. The peat is interesting here as it’s less pronounced than the nose, but now more overtly smoky. There’s a good level of oak exposure demonstrated by a real pepperiness running through the entire palate. Citrus is once again present – a combination of both zingy and sharp lemons and limes.
Finish: Medium length and with some drying astringency and favouring salts.
The 10 year old is an excellent introduction to Springbank’s range. The combination of big malty flavours alongside sharp citrus and gentle but ever-present peat works a treat. There’s a level of complexity here which puts many 10 year olds from other distilleries to shame. Not the cheapest ‘entry-level’ bottling, but one of the best in terms of overall quality vs. price.Score: 85/100