Having done a week of reviews of highland malts, let’s go all the way down south from Tain to Campbeltown for a week of reviews of whiskies from the Springbank distillery: two Springbanks and a Hazelburn.
Let’s begin with a Springbank 10. This is part of the vaunted Local Barley series; it was distilled in 2009 and bottled in 2019. Another 10 yo was released in 2020 in the same series but that one was, I believe, matured entirely in oloroso casks. This one is put together in a complicated manner, involving 77% bourbon cask whisky, 20% sherry cask whisky and 3% port cask whisky. I’m sure there are people who swear by that 3% of port casks but I’ll be shocked if I’ll be able to find any trace of it here. I won’t be shocked, however, if I like this a lot. I’ve liked all the others I’ve had in the Local Barley series a lot: I’ve previously reviewed a 16 yo, an 11 yo and a 9 yo. That 9 yo was also from the 2009 vintage but I think it was made in altogether more conventional way. At any rate, if this is as good as that one was I’ll be very happy indeed. Let’s see if that proves to be the case.
Springbank 10, 2009, Local Barley (56.2%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Lemon, olive oil, hot tarmac, coal smoke. Immediately sweeter on the second sniff with marinated olives (Kalamata) and the lemon moving in a preserved direction. More savoury too now with some ham brine. Stays in this vein for a while and then some of the muskier fruit from the palate peeps out. A few drops of water sharpen the fruit and also bring out more pepper.
Palate: Leads with the smoke (sootier here) and then there’s a big wave of salt and cracked pepper. Very nice texture and very approachable at full strength though it does pack a big peppery bite. On the second sip more fruit pokes through—lemon first and then some tropical accents (pineapple, a hint of papaya). As it sits there’s that Springbank sack cloth/burlap and papery quality and the peppery-sweet olive oil from the nose. The fruit expands with time and air, coming in earlier and with greater intensity. Water amps the fruit up even more and the sweeter, muskier notes are now in the ascendant.
Finish: Long. The smoke, pepper, salt and fruit jostle as it fades. The fruit takes the lead here too with time. As on the palate with water: the fruit is more expressive; the pepper picks up here too.
Comments: I’m a sucker for this style of whisky, at once austere and fruity and smoky. Wish I had a full bottle.
Rating: 90 points.