Here is the second edition in Springbank’s recent Local Barley series. The first was a 16 yo that was released in 2016 (I have a couple of bottles, as yet unopened). This one was released in 2017 and was matured entirely in bourbon casks. I believe there’s been a 10 yo in the series since, also released in 2017. Please let me know if there’s another that I’m unaware of. All have been very well received. As the name implies. these are releases distilled from locally grown barley and in the case of at least this one that local barley was bere barley, a Scottish strain that has a lower yield than the varieties normally used to make whisky (please let me know if the others were also from bere barley). The only other bere barley-based malt I’ve had was from Bruichladdich and I wasn’t overly impressed with that one (I don’t think I’ve reviewed it). Will this Springbank be much better? Will it make me regret not having got a bottle? Let’s see.
Springbank 11, 2006, Local Barley (53.1%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Somewhat mild off the bat with lemon and a bit of minerally peat. Below them are the usual Springbank notes of sackcloth and brine; not getting the usual mustard seed or leather though. It begins to wake up after a minute but there isn’t anything new, just the above, amplified; well, maybe some tart apple. The brine really comes on with time. 20 minutes in there’s olives and kelp mixed in there as well. With water there’s the mustard and coriander seed; the brine and lemon are intertwined and there’s a mineral sweetness as well.
Palate: Leads with the peat (more peppery here) and the sackcloth; the lemon is much more muted here. Very approachable at full strength and nice thick texture. On the second sip there’s some damp earth and the sackcloth note gets more cardboardy. The lemon expands as it sits. With more time still it gets more austere with the peat back in the front. Oh water ties everything together perfectly and makes it pop.
Finish: Long. The earthy notes contninue—the peppery peat turns sootier as it goes. With time there’s some wet limestone in there too. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is quintessential bourbon cask Springbank, uncompromisingly unsexy and itself. I can’t say I pick up notes that mark the bere barley but perhaps I would if I were drinking it alongside a regular bourbon cask Springbank of similar age. Anyway, I liked it a lot neat but really liked it with a few drops of water (added about 40 minutes in). Should have got a bottle.
Rating: 89 points.