This is the second of five annual bottles. Last year’s 16 year old (Prisma, from Machrimore farm) was a big favourite and there was a lot of demand, so we were all on starters orders for this one. But even I was surprised by the level of demand for this year’s bottle, it sold out in minutes everywhere (Cadenheads in Campbeltown burnt through 60 bottles in about an hour, I finally got through to them on the phone about 3pm, when they were a distant memory!). I think all UK stock has been and gone now, apart from the Green Welly Stop ballot).
2017’s 11 year old local barley is a big, robust, challenging whisky full of perfume, blackberries and soap. It has Springbank written through it like a stick of rock though and in my opinion is a really delicious whisky that demands you take your time with it. It isn’t, however, an everyday drammer.
2017 release. Bere barley from Aros farm, Feb 2006-Feb 2017, 9000 bottles.
Nose - Initially sweet but there is an earthy, mineral weight behind that. Almost charred, dank peat and wet oak. Blackberries, toast and the smell of a distillery shop (whisky with the smell of crushed barley and fermentation), With time there's freshly crushed coffee and wax but there's this persistent fizzing, soapy perfume, like parma violets without the lavender. More perfume, and more classic toffees with water.
Body - Soft, ripe fruits, more blackberries, and rich, classic Springbank oils. It's so Springbank, it tastes like what you think of when you think of Springbank. It does have a sour, clartiness that reminds me of the 10 year old Marrying Strength bottle I had a while back and didn't get on with that much, but that fruit and cigarette tobacco lifts it up. Better with water, more tobacco, even a little cigarette tar.
Finish - Medium with mouthcoating oils, ground black pepper and charred dried chillies. A little cinnamon heat at the end. Very long with water, the oils just leap out with more coffee and more astringent wood.
This certainly doesn't have the gravitas of the 16 year old but it has the alien fruit and a really robust confidence that sets it apart, and it is very, very Springbank. That dusty soap shop thing is really distinctive and I suspect will be quite polarising. This is a delicious and challenging whisky that is a great addition to the 2016+ local barley series.
Thanks Cuan for sharing a dram from his open bottle of this.