Springbank’s craft needs no further mention on this blog. Still making whisky the way it was made 100 years ago, and remaining a major employer in Campbeltown, many whisky connoisseurs would name Springbank as their favorite distillery. In fact, in an informal poll taken in a whisky fanatics Facebook group I belong to, it came out the clear winner in the member’s favorite list.
One of the strongest trends today is a movement toward localization. Obviously, Bruichladdich have been working the terroir angle for a while, and it’s but natural for Springbank to get as local as possible. This is nothing new, as local barley was used in the past, but the last release of a locally grown expression was in 2001, so it’s time to get back to it.
This expression was distilled 16 years ago from barley grown on Low Machrimore Farm, in Southend, on the southern sure of the peninsula.
This is the first of a series of five annual releases of local barley. There are no details as yet of the expected releases, and I don’t really expect any until next year.
Springbank Local Barley 16 Year Old, Low Machrimore Farm, Prisma Barley, 9000 Bottles (54.3% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Straw, sturdy ring letting off slow legs.
Nose: You’d never mistake this dram for anything but Springbank. The dirty freshness hits you right away, with a tamed honey sweetness, with an oily vanilla, sort of like a vanilla air freshener in a garage. Peat is present without overpowering it. The oily character stays on the nose. After sone time in the glass, peat and honey come through very strongly.
Palate: Thick and viscous, peaty and spicy, this is a serious dram to sip on. It’s pretty sweet, with the bourbon casks doing a good job here. Nutmeg and white pepper appear with that oily quality.
Linger: Peppery spice, honey and peat playing for a long time. Down the gullet there’s spice. That oily dirtyness stays with you.
You can tell that a lot of work was done with this expression both in the care taken in the craft and in the casks. This is an unmistakably classic Springbank. My only concern in the rather low VFM it offers at £95. While I found it to be really good, I’d expect nothing less from Springbank, but not so extraordinary as to justify the price tag.
I will further express my concern with a price increase I found on the recent batch of the 12 year old Cask Strength is 60% more expensive than it was but a year ago (€85 versus €54). I can stomach price increases, and realize, obviously, that this is the market we’re in, but raising prices by 60% in a year is well beyond excessive.
* * * After publishing this post, Mr. David Allen from Springbank has officially responded to my post saying that wholesale prices on the core range have not been raised by Springbank in the past two years, and that the pricing problem is, therefore, limited to the stores I visited. * * *