Springbank Society Tasting @ SWMS Vaults

Springbank has rapidly become a more and more exclusive distillery – they only produce up to 260,000 litres a year (compare to Caol Ila ~7m, Macallan ~15m and Glenfiddich ~20m) and their ethos and quality are highly sought after. Equally, the ‘fan club’ – Springbank Society – is becoming that way too, as they’re no longer taking new members. I think I paid £50 to join around 10 years ago, and it mostly gives the benefit of an annual release only available to members – see my Hazelburn 16yo review for the last release.

So it was really nice to be invited to a tasting in Edinburgh of the 2024 Springbank lineup (plus a couple of bonuses) and the £25 ticket price was extremely fair. It was an amazing night – full of excellent whisky and great info about the distillery and how it works, as well as a potted history of how Springbank has worked within the culture of Campeltown.

Springbank Society Tasting - lineup

Not a bad array of drams for the evening (plus a bonus Campbeltown Loch on arrival)

Here are a few notes on the drams we sampled – the Campbeltown Loch was a freebie on arrival, but the others follow the order of the picture above. I scored them all in the 7s, as I kept going back to them and re-ordering them and they were all excellent, but nothing totally stand-out. Fair to say the 2024 releases are all worth seeking out, although the cheaper ones are those to buy in my opinion.

0) Campbeltown Loch 2023 46%
2021 was mostly Glen Scotia. 2022/2023 are 60% unpeated Kilkerran plus all other Campbeltown malts. 5/6yo casks – 60% sherry, 40% bourbon and all first fill. This was the Sept 2023 release.
Noses & tastes: Meaty, fruity and drying /slightly watery? towards the end
7.4 / 10

1) Hazelburn Society bottle 2007/2018 55.9%
Noses & tastes: Orange oil, slight toothpaste, fatty. Massive rose petals on second taste!
7.9 / 10

2) Kilkerran 8yo CS 2024 57.4%
Noses & tastes: Creamy, pepper, toffee, sour cherries. Bit too spicy, perhaps
7.3 / 10

3) Springbank 12yo CS 2024 57.7% (unreleased atm, ABV might drop slightly)
Noses & tastes: Sweet, strawberry candy, herby, humbugs. Tiny bit sour for me
7.0 / 10

4) Springbank 13yo Local Barley 2024 54.1% – will be around £100 a bottle
Uses Belgravia barley from Glencraigs farm (nearby the distillery), aka the ‘sunflower farm’.
Noses & tastes: Strawberry cream sweets and a general creamy sweetness (very similar to above, but to the max!). Jaffa orange moving towards Sunny Delight? This is great, but it’s very much on the sweeter end! So floral on the finish.
7.5 / 10

5) Springbank 25yo 2024 46% (unreleased atm) – £500 a bottle!
Noses & tastes: Ancient aromas, sweetness develops into cupboards. Basil and mint. Herb pasty donuts?! Would likely be amazing at cask strength.
7.7 / 10

6) Longrow Red 7yo Burgundy Pinot Noir 2024 57.1% (unreleased atm)
Actually slightly shy of 7 years old right now, but will hit this mark when released in May)
Noses & tastes: Very meaty, fruity, zingy. Cornish pasties! Turnip on the finish? Couldn’t drink a lot of this but a massive crowd-pleaser..
7.7 / 10

Some general notes from what was a very informative tasting (NB these may not be 100% accurate, but it’s what managed to jot down!):

  • All Springbank bourbon casks in the future will be from the New Riff distillery in Kentucky – they use almost all malted barley. Sherry casks come from Miguel Martín in Jerez. All are “seasoned casks”, not solera – seasoned for 22 months. A lot of oak will be extruded during this time, so the ‘sherry’ is not so nice!
  • 2 new distilleries in the Campbeltown area have been approved. Witchburn and Dal Riata, but Machrihanish is yet to be approved.
  • General feeling of approval about these new distilleries and regenerating Campbeltown as an area and “putting it on the map” . In the 1800s there were 34 legal distilleries, then in 1925, the death knell – just Springbank and Glen Scotia left! Mostly down to these distilleries producing poor quality output, apparently (although the reasons for this are perhaps a bit more nuanced than some histories suggest).

All in all, a really great and good value evening – met some lovely people and had an amazing time 🥃


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