Single malt whisky - tasting notes

24 Mar 2010

Springbank 10 Years old

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Springbank

I’m not a big fan of young Springbank, but the fact that Springbank 10 Years old picked up an award at the recent World Whisky Awards 2010 made me want to review it in depth. I’ll do a direct comparison between the 2008 batch and the restyled 2009 batch.

Springbank 10 years old Springbank 10 yo
(46%, OB 2009, batch 09/434)

Nose: a classic Springbank profile with a wide range of aromas. Starts on tangerine, with added notes of lemon peel, green apples and pears. Dry oak. Maritime notes with a bit of ‘wet dog’. Hints of sharp, earthy peat as well. After a while, the fruitiness becomes bigger and rounder. Mouth: very oily and extremely coating. Very peaty as well, much more peat than I expected. Rather spicy, with mostly pepper and nutmeg coming out. Roasted nuts in the background. A faint hint of sour notes (vinegar?) in the aftertaste. Becomes a bit perfumed with water, so I recommend it straight. Finish: long, peaty and briney.

This is a surprisingly complex dram. A very consistent opener of the range! Around € 35.

Score: 86/100



Springbank 10Springbank 10 yo
(46%, OB 2008, batch 08/82, 35cl)

Nose: this version clearly shares the same basic elements, but the end result is less appealing. Still some tangerine, but it misses the sparkling freshness. Lots of strawberries with cream, quite spectacular. A bit more wine influence I would say, with dried fruits and even a few dirty traces. Hints of sesame oil (I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this in a whisky before but it’s clearly there). Mouth: maybe a tad less fat and a tad less peaty. More spices though. Less different than on the nose, but still it misses the balance of the 2009 version. Hints of heather honey that I didn’t find in the newer version. Finish: medium length, less briney and more malty. Very dry.

This Springbank 10yo is less complex and a bit rougher. Let’s be glad the current version is definitely the better choice.

Score: 82/100


Afterwards, I found out it won in the category “Best Campbeltown under 12 years” which probably limits the number of contenders to.. two? three maybe? Never take whisky competitions too seriously!

For a review of the 2015 edition, see here: Springbank 10 Year Old 2015

Springbank 10 Years old 3.5 Ruben Luyten 2010-03-24
  • aw

    “Never take whisky competitions too seriously!”

    So true. I have learned to take all competitions and all awards in any industry with a pinch of salt.

  • Gal

    so funny.
    it’s like Ardbeg is going to win : Best Islay peated whisky under 11 years old, starting with A and owned by a company that starts with G…
    all tailored to win.

    Ruben, i must say that i dont have a good knowledge of the Campbetltown malts. but i know that SB 15 is nice, but not my cup’ a tea.

  • Ruben

    I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of Springbank myself (although some of the older stuff is magnificent). Their new stuff is always nice but it never really convinces me to buy it. A lot of this is personal preference of course.

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  • aw

    I too fail to be convinced by Springbank, but I’ve only tried the more recent expressions. I thought the Longrow CV was pleasant enough, but no more than that. I get a slight fizzy, sherberty taste from Springbank that isn’t that pleasant.

    However, wanting to be convinced that Springbank can be a great distillery, I hunted down and bought a bottle of the Springbank 21 yo that you reviewed and loved on 08 June 2009. It was discounted too, because of damage to the packaging. I’m waiting for a special occasion on which to try it… which I expect to come in a couple of weeks.

  • MARS

    The springbank 21 years old is magnificent.

    But I am not so impressed by the recent release too.
    Something in the taste that I don’t appreciate(the 18 year old first edition include)


  • Barman’s Choice

    I like this post!

  • SteveH

    Hello, I bought a 750 ml Springbank 10 in 2009, which has a charcoal gray label w/orange border. This actually became my favorite… sharp lovely candy nose, wonderful bacon smoke, much going on and a long satisfying finish. I now have a replacement, from another store, which now has a totally black label. This whisky is much lighter in color, and is of a much lesser quality, and one which I would not buy again. You can search Google Images for Springbank, to see my bottle.

    If your photos are correct, you have not tried the orange-label bottle, and I might suggest that to you for a review. I e-mailed Springbank, but no response yet. I wonder what you think about this. Maybe you have access to more information; and, where did you find the batch numbers ??

    Thanks very much, and I appreciate your providing this blog. SteveH in Michigan, USA

  • Ruben

    It’s not always possible to give you all this information. My samples came from which means I didn’t see the actual bottles.
    I can tell you that there is indeed:
    – a cream label
    – a rounded charcoal label (orange border)
    – a new rectangular charcoal label (no border)
    … in this order. I don’t have the exact dates, but it seems that there were 35cl bottles with a cream label in 2008, while the 70/75cl versions already used the rounded charcoal label. You’ve tried the pre-2009 and the 2009 version, I’ve tried a 35cl cream label (which is quite uncommon and maybe not representative for the bigger bottles) and the 2009 version.
    Although you seem to prefer the rounded charcoal version, most people seem to prefer the latest version with the rectangular label, but it all comes down to your personal preference of course.
    Bottle codes are printed on the glass, although sometimes they are hardly visible or not present at all.

  • Carl

    on questions around Springbank labels, i asked the distillery and received this…

    The labels you are talking about were used over the last 7 years.
    The cream label was used from 2003-2005. We then changed to colour to black from 2005-07. In 2008 we changed the label to the new format, however I can assure you that we have not changed the whisky with the changes in label.
    One way of finding the date of bottling is to look through the glass at the back of the front label. There you should find an operation number like 07/208. This tells you that the whisky was bottled in 2007, and is the 208th bottling operation of that year.

  • SteveH

    Thanks to all for the helpful posts about Springbank 10.
    Well, I spent some time looking again for a bottling date, but could not see any type of lettering on the back of the labels of either bottle (through the glass).

    Maybe it is important to mention that I have 75cl bottles.

    Regarding the whisky itself, my black w/orange border bottle (2005-07) looks similar to a greenish olive oil, and it still tastes exciting and lovely. My new format rectangular label bottle (2008) is amber, and while the taste is growing on me, it is nowhere near to the excitement of the previous label bottle. So I suppose we have to attribute the difference to a substantial batch variation. Thus an edifying experience in whisky :-)

  • WhiskyNotes

    Indeed, my Springbank 1997 (bottled 2007) has this kind of bottling code on the back of the front label, but older Springbanks (10yo with a charcoal label and several 21yo’s) don’t have it. Thanks for the information, Carl.

  • Carl

    Truth be told I have both the old cream label (with orange then black border) and the old charcoal label (with orange border) and cannot find the dates on either, hence my question to Mr and Mrs Springbank, maybe this is because I am drinking at the same time.
    SteveH- here is South Africa we also have the 75cl, no change there, but sadly no-one is bringing in my favourite medicine anymore and only old stocks can be found in dark corners at odd and varying prices. Soon I may consider turpentine as a morning dram.

  • Gord Campbell

    I just finished a 70c bottle of 10 year old that i bought at the shop in Campbeltown. I live in the Yukon in Canada and this single malt has the fullness of flavour that brings out the memories of Scotland. A mild peaty nose, with a lasting oily/almost clove after taste brings back the day with clarity.



November 2015
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Coming up

  • Lindores 2015 festival bottling
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  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
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  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
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1931 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.