A picture showing a bottle of Sprinbank 10 laying in a bed of flowers.

Review: Springbank 10

Last weekend I was having a little roundtrip across the old “Zuiderzee” and it’s harbour cities. The first stop was Hoorn and in the early morning I decided to visit the local liquor shop to look for one bottle in particular. The Springbank 10. I would have taken any Springbank really, but let’s be realistic here. I’ve been looking to buy a Springbank (at non secondary market prices) for a while now, and so I went into liquor store ‘t Fust with low expectations.

To my great surprise (and sheer happiness) I actually spotted a couple of bottles left on the shelves! Not being able to hide my joy over this find, I quickly struck up a conversation with the shop owner. I expressed my amazement at finding bottles of Springbank sitting on the shelves, and he explained to me that was because he always tried to keep a fair amount of Springbank in stock. Now you might think, don’t we all? But his reasoning for it was indeed a very special one!

When ‘t Fust opened their doors back in 2007, representatives of the distillery actually visited the opening. Because, as it happened to be, it was the shop owner’s personal favourite whisky. And what can be better than keeping a few bottles of your favourite dram around, so you can share it with likeminded people. We talked for quite a while and I left the store with a huge grin on my face, and a bottle of Springbank in my hand. It was still early morning, and the day could not have started any better!

Tasting Notes: Springbank 10

Stats:

ABV: 46% (92 proof)

Age: 10 years old

Distillery: Springbank Distillery

Owned by: J & A Mitchell & Co. Ltd.

Category: Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Awards: World Whisky Awards Gold 2014

Chill Filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Setting:

Enjoyed neat in a Glencairn, in my trusty old chair at home. While listening to some Cannonball Adderley. After letting the dram open up in the glass for a minute or ten. For this review I decided to go with the neck pour.

Nose:

Damn, this nose surprised me… in a very good way. It’s very complex for a dram this age and there’s so much going on that I had to take a step back to start picking it all apart. Going back to the glass the first thing I found was pineapple, but different. And then it hit me, it was grilled pineapple sprinkled with honey (something I used to love putting on the bbq but forgot all about for some reason). Behind the grilled pineapple I find more fruit, cherry and caramelized apple come to mind. I’ve read a lot about the “Springbank Funk” but I find it very hard to find any funkiness in the nose, if anything there’s a little mustiness that I relate more to the fruit in my mind.

A drop of water brings a sharpness to the nose and the caramelized apples turn to green apples. And suddenly apple taffy pops in my mind.

Palate:

Ok, that funkiness they spoke about? I definitely find it on the palate. It’s almost like tasting what it smells like to step in a barn full of hay and cow dung. Now I know this may sound very unappealing, but it’s not in an intrusive or unpleasant way. If you spend some time on a farm when you were younger, this dram might just transport you back there (like it does for me) and fills you with the fond memories you had of the place.

There’s also quite a bit of burn for a dram at 46%, but not a harsh burn. More a slight tickle that finds it’s way from your tongue to the back of your throat. I still get the pineapple on the palate too, but it’s harsher than on the nose. It kind of reminds me of biting on the hard center of the pineapple, slightly bitter but still reminiscent enough of the fruit. There’s also some nutmeg popping up, accompanied by some hazelnuts. As you can see from the length of this description, the palate is wonderfully complex (just like the nose).

A drop of water adds more warmth to the dram, and brings forth quite a bit more sweetness than before. Apple and raisins pancakes – topped with brown sugar -comes to mind.

Finish:

The finish lingers for a long time and leaves the tongue tingling. The pineapple slowly starts to turn into pears and there’s slight hints of smoke. Not the peated “Islay” kind of smoke though. I love smoking meat on my bbq and often use apple wood to do so, that’s the kind of smoke this reminds me of. It strikes me that this smoke appeared so late, but I’m glad that it did! It makes the dram even more complex. Very late in the finish – I’m talking more than 5 minutes after my last sip – suddenly the honey from the nose pops up again. A beautiful flourish at the very end.

After the drop of water I lost the pear I got in the initial finish. It’s been replaced by brown sugar, raisins and apple. Just like they appeared on the palate after the drop of water. The finish becomes a tad bit shorter, but is still enjoyable after all. And the honey flourish at the end? That’s still there!

Verdict:

I went into this tasting with very high expectations, but also a bit on guard. It’s only a ten year old after all and even though the price tag of 70 euro that I paid is more than fair, it’s still hefty for an age statement of that kind. But boy am I glad that I got to try this dram, and still have plenty of pours left in my bottle. This has got to be the most complex ten year old I’ve ever tasted and for once the hype around this dram didn’t even do it justice. I think no matter how colourful I try to describe this dram, it’s still something you have to try for yourself to understand what everyone’s raving about. It’s an instant personal favourite and I’d buy another bottle in a heartbeat, regardless of its price.

This is a masterpiece.

Rating:

94/100

Value:

B

Click here to learn more about how I come up with my tasting notes and how I determine rating and value.

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