By Elizabeth Emmons
As described in my review of Springbank 10, Springbank is a special distillery in many ways. It is one of the three operating distilleries in Campbeltown, and 100% of its barley is produced using traditional floor malting methods. All of its whiskey, from malting to bottling, is produced on the distillery’s premises.
Springbank is also the oldest independent family-owned distillery in Scotland, and 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 long lasting and is well-respected today by lovers of single malt scotches.
If you like Springbank 10, be aware that Springbank 15 is very different. In a blind tasting, you probably would not guess they were from the same distillery.
In the glass, Springbank 15 is a golden yellow. The nose is heavy on caramel and vanilla.
Having my first sip, the first word that came to mind was “Wow!”. It has a very particular taste, and that caused me to vacillate on my like for this whiskey.
Springbank 15 plays with you as you drink it, and I found that the first time I loved it, the second time I thought it was just okay, and the third time, I warmed up to it again. I noticed that Springbank 15 is a sensitive whiskey and really changes depending on how long you hold it in your mouth, how you breathe when you have it in your mouth, and how quickly you swallow it. Of course, to some extent, that is the case with all whiskeys but I noticed it with this one in particular.
It is ever so slightly oily on the tongue. After swallowing, there is an intense and lasting full-mouth burn that reminded me of a numbing agent or strong mouthwash. I noticed it especially on my lips and gums. If “chewed”, the toffee sweetness comes out and the burn lessens. There is a distinct nuttiness and the unmistakable essence of marzipan.
The finish is dominated by the numbing freshness but a hint of underlying nuttiness, peat, and toasted vanilla remains and is present throughout, giving it a warmth and presence. I like this aspect of the whiskey and for this reason it is a perfect after dinner or nightcap drink. It really holds its own. The finish is also dry due to its time in sherry casks.
With water, the tones of the taste remain consistent but all the levels and depth of the tastes are not as prominent. The mouthwash feeling disappears. I did notice, however, that it tasted oilier and the sherry notes were more evident.
Springbank 15 Year Old is bottled at 46% ABV.
In the U.S., listed prices for Springbank 15 vary from around $80-115.