Whisky Odyssey
Old-fashioned with a twist of the modern 

Springbank 10 (2017) versus Springbank 10 (2024)

The Springbank 10 Years Old has been a legendary bottling since forever. Even Whitney Houston enjoyed a sip in the famous movie The Bodyguard. Throughout the years the labels have changed every so often, but always maintaining that distinctive “S” that is now so instantly recognisable. And the liquid inside? Always having a good share of fans. Today we put two bottlings to the test. If we are to believe a remarkable passage in David Stirk’s book about independent bottlers, we get some idea of how batches of Springbank 10 are made. He reminisces on a conversation with Springbank legend Frank McHardy explaining it to him. Let me simplify it: take casks 1 to 10, and 11 to 20. Mix them together. Done. Batch variation? Who cares? Drink!

Springbank 10 years old (2017), bottled at 46 % abv

Makeup: Batch 17/83. Bottled on 21 February 2017. One of the very last with this label, before being replaced by the current bright orange label. In 2017 still two batches were released of this black label with the orange “S”. Interestingly, in 2016 Springbank already released one bottling with the current orange label. A trial run perhaps? Or a mistake in Whiskybase?

General impressions: Opens up with a strange whiff of pickle, which I hope is caused by maybe not the best sample bottle. We move on quickly to a more familiar and very pronounced mineral note. Limestone. The fruity aromas come from the glass very dry, like an apple that is close to expiration date or a ripe banana. A delicate fume note from the car maintenance shop joins in, before turning over the wheel to some modest oranges. Smokier than today’s expression, surely.

On taking a sip, I am surprised how strong this comes off. The peaty note dominates the palate and makes this 10 years old lean more towards oiliness and some bitterness. Quite a peppery arrival too, and not much fruit to speak off. Mostly lemons actually, and some peaches. It is now I notice the colour on this glass is just a tad lighter than the 2024 version. Maybe less wood influence, more of the Springbank spirit doing the talking? Only after adding a drop of water the fruits speak up clearer, but not cleaner. This is a very chalky, masculine and industrious tasting Springbank 10 years old.

Conclusion: A totally uncommercial whisky, which I think Springbank took pride in bottling, just a little under 10 years ago. Absolutely a dirty Campbeltown style in this glass. One has to like it, Serge Valentin scored a 2015 version with the same label 91 points on Whiskyfun.  

86 points


Springbank 10 years old (2024), bottled at 46 % abv

Makeup: Batch 24/20. Bottled on 5 February 2024. Seems that February is a bottling month for the 10 years old.

General impressions: Eight years later, what changed? Well, less pickles and more vanilla for sure. Bitter fruits and juicy fruits emerge from the glass. Lemons, grapefruit, oranges, tangerines. More bright and shiny. The limestone and mineral qualities are there too, but more pushed back. More talkative compared to the previous glass. The mouthfeel is where the real difference is made. A lot more juices and wood spices, which makes me believe that the recipe of the Springbank 10 might have changed to include more first fill bourbon. The change is for the better, in my humble opinion.

Yes, it becomes more appealing and dare I say commercially attractive, but all the attributes that we know and love in Springbank are also still very much present. If you pour in the smallest drop of water, that typical Campbeltown mineral dirtiness comes out to play.

Conclusion: The king of flagship core expressions. More sweet and fruity influences that may turn off purists of the Springbank style, but I prefer this upbeat attitude that the older expression lacks.

Score: 88 points

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