By Elizabeth Emmons
Springbank is unique in many ways. It is one of three operating distilleries in Campbeltown, it is the oldest independent family-owned distillery in Scotland, 100% of its barley is produced using traditional floor malting methods, and all of its whisky, from malting to bottling, is produced on the distillery’s premises. Springbank has always been owned and operated by the Mitchell family, who officially founded the distillery in 1828. The distillery (and whisky production in Campbeltown) has gone through some ups and downs over the past 200 or so years, but Springbank has proven itself to be lasting and is well-respected today.
Springbank 10 in particular is unique because it is distilled 2.5 times as opposed to 2, which is standard in the industry. The third distillation, the .5, uses 80% of the feints and 20% of the low wines produced from the first and second distillation rounds.
Now to this delicious whisky: if you are a peat lover like me, you will like this, maybe even love it. It might become be your “go-to” because it is just peaty enough, yet just sweet and dry enough, to enjoy at any time. It is really the best of both worlds and an all-around pleaser. The barley is dried over a peat fire which produces a lovely complex flavor. The addition of this light peat smoke tempers the sweetness of the barley and adds to the flavors that the whiskey possesses as a result of being aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. Springbank 10 Year Old is bottled at 46% abv.
In the glass, Springbank 10 is a medium golden yellow and is not unlike the color of apple juice. The nose is light on the peat and produces hints of orange and pear with a bit of caramel.
A sip yields an immediate and mild sweetness and then a quick pleasant peppery taste which lingers on the tip of the tongue and bursts of orange citrus. On the oily scale, it is a 2 or 3 but is still very full bodied. It has an earthy and slightly charred taste.
The finish is spicy and medium length (lasts under a minute), and is similar to the finish of cinnamon gum, which is stubborn and produces an overall mouth spicy freshness. The end of the finish is unmistakably dry as a result of the sherry cask aging, and slightly salty due to the peat.
With water, it is sweeter and less layered but still very good. The pepper is toned down and diffused in the mouth. I do prefer this neat, however, as the water washes away some of its complexities which is what makes this a winner.
In the U.S., listed prices for Springbank 10 vary from $45 to $60. In the UK, around £36 ($55) places the pricing at the higher end of that scale.