Whisky Review #96: Springbank 16 Years Old Local Barley

And here we are at the final stretch and the first of four reviews which will take us to review #99 and of course, the magical 100th review. If anything, these reviews will showcase some rather special expressions which I have had the pleasure of savouring over the last year or so.

First up: Springbank!

Those who know Springbank well would know about their commitment to produce whiskies which are un-chill filtered and without the addition of colouring. The distillery also tends to produce a typical Campbeltown style whisky and these expressions can be unpeated (Hazelburn), peated (Springbank) and heavily peated (Longrow).

The distillery is also one of the largest private employers in the Campbeltown area and the staff spend 6 months of the year producing whisky at Springbank and the other 6 months doing the same at sister distillery, Glengyle.

More information on the distillery can be found at the following link: Springbank

The first of these four reviews focuses on an expression of Springbank which has captured the imagination of those who have come across it and have also had the opportunity to sample it.

springbank-16-year-old-local-barley-scotch-whisky-web
The first of 5 Local Barley releases over the next few years.

This expression was distilled in 1999 from barley grown at Low Machrimore farm in the town of Southend, which is a few miles outside of Campbeltown, matured for 16 years and bottled at a cask strength abv of 54.3% by the distillery.

This expression is the first of 5 consecutive Local Barley releases (the 2nd release, an 11 Years Old expression, was released recently and sold out rather quickly) from the distillery over the next few years.

So, let’s dive right into the review!

Springbank 16 Years Old Local Barley
Springbank 16 Years Old Local Barley

Springbank 16 Years Old Local Barley (54.3% abv)

Colour: Golden syrup

Nose: Initial entry presents a whack of salinity coupled with some barley sugar sweetness, bourbon-esque hints and lots of malt. There is a slight waxiness to the nose which one would generally associate with a Clynelish and it is rather endearing.

With time, the typical Springbank vegetal note emerges and it is followed by a fair bit of coastal peat, acetone and light citrus fruits. Quite elegantly presented too! (23/25)

Palate: Initial entry is rather sweet, with a very clear malty note and barley sugar making an appearance early on. The vegetal Springbank note is chased by a helping of sea salt and coastal peat.

With time, more of the barley sugar hints, honey, supple oak, slight acetone and cinnamon emerge on the palate and are followed by hints of allspice and black pepper. The peat becomes increasingly grungy and yet helps to unearth some of the light citrus notes which were detected on the nose. (24/25)

Finish: Medium to long on the finish, with light citrus, sweet malt, oak, honey and a touch of black pepper bringing things to a close alongside some of the dirty peat hints, sea salt and a distant whiff of cigar smoke. (22/25)

Balance: A supremely well-balanced and great representation of the Springbank house style which allows for the various nuances to shine through. It is clear that the focus is on the barley and the malt and barley sugar notes are standout elements from the very beginning. The mouthfeel is oily for the most part with a touch of dryness at the end. (22/25)

Rating: 91/100

I savoured this expression at The Elysian Whisky Bar (them again) during my visit to Melbourne and it was one of 8 different expressions that I sampled over 2 visits. Some of them have previously been reviewed, but others will be reviewed in due course.

This expression was one of the standouts for me as it exhibited so much of the distillery’s house style and the complexity was something to savour. It was so good that I was ready to purchase a bottle on the spot, only to be told that it was not possible to do so as they only had another left and it was going to be opened by the glass.

I then had to console myself by purchasing a bottle of Signatory Vintage Imperial 1995 20 Years Old (which in all honesty is a pretty damn good buy considering the provenance!)

If you are in Melbourne, please ensure that you visit this wonderful bar and I’m sure that both Kelvin and Yao will take good care of you.

Until the next review, have a wonderful week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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