When I’d managed to get my hand on the fifth (and what I presumed to be the final) modern Springbank Local Barley release, the world was an entirely different place than it is today. I’d like to think that’s why Springbank decided to continue releasing new single malts made from locally harvested grain — as a sort of pick-me-up after what has been a brutal year for the world at large.
Springbank Local Barley holds a special place in the whiskyverse, largely thanks to the many (now legendary) releases in the second half of the 1990s. I’ve never reviewed one on this blog (unless you count the few words I wrote here), but can attest to their excellence. Many of those were distilled in 1965 or 1966 and at least 30 years old. They only added to the legend of Springbank and when a series of new Local Barley releases was announced in 2016, many whisky enthusiasts rejoiced.
It’s probably not fair to compare the modern releases to the old ones. If only because of the age difference. But I think it is fair to say that all of them have been wonderful. There’s been some moaning about the price for these relatively young single malts, but while they might be on the high side in relation to their age, I find the price-to-quality ratio checks out. Below you’ll find my reviews of them over the years:
Springbank’s latest Local Barley comes with a twist, as this is the first modern release to have been fully matured in Oloroso sherry casks. This of course has only added to the hype. The Belgravia barley was grown on Glencraigs Farm, a sustainable family farm just outside of Campbeltown that has been around since 1904.
Springbank 10 Years Local Barley (55.6%, OB, 2020)
Nose: Rather musty and with a lot of sherry influence. Dry, but not too dry. Sweet, but not too sweet. Whiffs of menthol tobacco, bung cloth and cocoa powder, as well as wet pebbles, a touch of cherry syrup, orange peel and gentle whispers of a florist’s shop. The Springbank profile remains somewhat hidden. Taste: Extremely oily and very sweet with a touch menthol and soft, earthy peat. Quite immediately a step up from the nose, which was enjoyable to begin with. Molasses, cracked black peppercorns and charred lemon peel. But also raisins, dates and macadamia nuts. Finish: Sweet and sticky with lingering spices and some mint.
I was prepared for this to suck because I love the bourbon-forward earlier releases of Springbank Local Barley. But thankfully it does not (suck). It’s another really good one from Campbeltown.