Springbank Local Barley 11yo (2023 Release)


Just one review today as we’ve had a busy weekend frantically entering ballots for bottles (and trying to deal with a flooded bathroom), but hopefully you’ll forgive us as our one review is the new local barley release.

Springbank Local Barley 11yo (2023 Release)

Region: Campbeltown

ABV: 55.1%

Price: £110.00 

You’ll be forgiven for not believing this bottle exists as, even though there was 15,000 bottles produced, you’re unlikely to ever see this one in the wild. Well... we can confirm this is as real as Nessie. Produced from Belgravia barley from Glencraigs Farm. It was distilled in May 2011 and matured in a combination of ex-Sherry (55%), ex-Bourbon (35%) and ex-Rum (10%) casks before it was bottled December 2022 at 11 years old. 

Nose

Initially we’re getting barely sugars, strawberry foam sweets, costal sea breeze and light peat smoke. A little time in the glass reveals freshly squeezed lemon juice, rice paper (sugar paper), red apple, raspberries and hints of the Campbeltown funk we love. A pleasant nose that show’s promise, but doesn’t suggest anything that would make us need to part with auction prices for a bottle. There’s also some caramel sweetness here, but other than that not much that would indicate a fair amount of sherry casks were used in the mix.

Palate

The citrus from the nose is the dominant note on the palate, along with that there’s dark chocolate, Cranachan, toasted marshmallows, and very light peat smoke. Good length finish with salt and lemon juice lingering. As it sits on our tongue we’re getting just a little too much peppery spice, but it’s a small critique. Nice mouthfeel with a touch of oiliness. Going back to it and we get some golden syrup, caramelised brown sugar, mango and a hint of ash.  

Nose (with water)

Reduction brings out icing sugar and Anjou pears. There’s also a slight reduction in the smoke, but the dram wasn’t overly peated to begin with. Going back to it again reveals a little mango, yeast / bread baking in an oven. We’re now finding the Campbeltown funk is more prominent. Finally, we can also pick out burnt paper and rice crackers. 

Palate (with water)

Water has brought out a little ginger spice that lingers through to the finish. Along with it there’s some honey and chocolate mousse. The peppery spice is gone, but the trade off is the mouthfeel is a touch diminished. Like the nose there’s even less peat smoke. Personally we’d avoid water it doesn’t need it. We’re also getting more caramelised brown sugar which we assume is the sherry casks shining through.

Conclusion

We’re genuinely surprised that there’s so much sherry maturation in the mix here, as we really struggled to taste any, and if your looking for a sherried Springer you’ll be disappointed. Saying that it another really well made release, and an easy 8/10 for us. We’re not willing to go higher than that as much like last year’s release this is great for its age and at RRP a must buy, but at auction prices it’s just not worth it.

Speaking of last year’s release Interestingly, this year’s release seems to be from the same harvest / distillation of Belgravia barley as last year’s just aged for an additional year. If you’re wondering which is better we have to say we prefer this year’s release. It’s a touch more complex and has slight better alcohol integration. Thats not to say last year’s bottle was bad. It just falls a little short of this. If you’d like to check out our review it’s available hereWe don’t have a review on the blog, but we’d also put this release ahead of the 2020 sherry cask release.

If you’re interested in the other recent J&A Mitchel releases our reviews of the new Kilkerran 8yo's are hereWe’ll also be releasing a review of the new 12yo Hazelburn Sherrywood on Wednesday.

Score: 8/10

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  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

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