Yes, yes, YES! I was so happy to be able to try these and see what all the hype is about!!
Really never thought I’d be able to try these. Mainly because they sold out so fast, partly because I didn’t really buy into the hype. Yes, local barley is really interesting. Yes, Springbank is awesome whisky. But in my experience, at this age, Springbank does better in Sherry casks and needs 20+ years in Bourbon or Hogsheads to shine.
Just an opinion.
What is not an opinion is that everyone went mental for these two releases. The first two of a series of 5, over the next 5 years. Of course, the flippers did their thing too and before you know it everyone was fighting over the bottles. I laughed from the sidelines but secretly wanted to taste them.
Well, Whisky in Leiden gave me the chance. I spotted these on another importer’s table and politely asked if I could try them. The thanks here go to Martin, the guy who did let me.
Springbank 16 Local Barley 54.3%
Colour: Light Gold
Nose: Serious whisky. Austere. Really austere. Absolutely minimal. Mineral and a little fruit, mainly it's ethereal and avoids definition.
Water: Opens up a little after 30+ mins, with a little citrus-y pith.
Taste: Austere and minimal again, very mineral with slate, then some fresh fruit, great orange citrus, oily but ethereal.
Water: Slightly less mineral and some spice builds.
Finish: Medium/Long length. Oak comes in and the oils coat the mouth, but again, hard to pin down.
80% Bourbon, 20% Sherry. From Prisma Barley (I think) from Low Machrimore Farm. The best way I can describe this is that it’s like sucking the last stands of pith off a peach stone or talking to someone who doesn’t want to talk to you. It’s hard work and pretty unrewarding. Yeah, intellectual whisky. It did open up more after 30+ minutes with water but not as much as I hoped.
Springbank 11 Local Barley 53.1%
Colour: Light Gold
Nose: Much more approachable than the 16. Freshly fruity, malty, cigarette ash and smoke, kiwi and lime juice.
Water: More fruit and some bitterness: Melon, kiwi and coffee.
Taste: Fresh, fruity, malty then complex spice builds with lots of freshly cut ginger, white pepper and balancing citrus, acidic lemon. Undercurrent of sea salt the whole way.
Water: More spicy but unbalances it a little.
Finish: Medium length. Soft, chocolatey and malty with a mineral edge. Lovely.
26 Bourbon barrels, made with Bere barley from Aros Farm. Better without water I think. In my opinion it is better than the 16, just more approachable and therefore enjoyable.
Now, I did have these two together to compare. I did add water to both, I did leave both for an hour to open up. It seemed like the 16 needed longer to oxidise and open up more though. Might be something that gets better as the level goes down in the bottle and it can slowly oxidise.
Thanks for reading!
Scotch Review #336-#337
Whisky Network Reviews #372-#373
Network Average: 74.4
Best Score: 92
Worst Score: 44
60-64 Just About OK
65-69 Ok to Good
75-79 Very Good
Full Disclosure Disclaimer: I currently work as a Brand Ambassador for Penderyn Distillery. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not reflect the views of Penderyn Distillery or The Welsh Whisky Company. I try to maintain as much objectivity as I can but feel free to take my reviews with as big a pinch of salt as you like. Furthermore, my rating scale is NOT based on a Parker type wine scoring scale or a school/college/university % or A-F grade score. I apologise for any seemly low or 'bad' scores given with my system and am sorry I can't say only nice things. Please keep in mind that I am ethically compromised and am unable to produce 100% unbiased reviews.