This time it’s all about Springbank bottlings, with about ten years of age difference between the two expressions I’m reviewing this evening. Sláinte!

Springbank 11 Year Old Local Barley

General facts: This is an eleven-year-old whisky bottled at the strength of 53,1% and is matured in bourbon casks only. This specific Springbank is distilled from locally grown barley from the area around Campbeltown and is the second bottling in the distillery’s series of annual expressions from locally produced grain. The whisky is neither chill-filtered nor artificially coloured. Only 9000 bottles are available.

Colour: Golden

Nose: The first this that strikes is different sweet fragrances like ginger-pickled pears, brown sugar and chocolate milk. Then comes honey and actually even some more chocolate, but also more fruits in the shape of ripe bananas. I also sense some mixed spices, pretty hard to define, and finally a sweet, malty note.

Taste: A bit of leather at first and then quite a lot of cotton candy emerges with subtle peat smoke and fruity sweets. More sweetness now: fudge, sweet licorice, honey and creamy vanilla pannacotta. With water the whisky opens up big time and reveals a sweet-and-sour fruit bomb with loads of custard – apple pie with custard! Some citrus right at the end, like sweet grapefruit without the bitter kick to it.

Finish: Burnt spices, and overall a burnt sensation. Now I know – spicy roasted almonds! Then some light peat smoke that fades out into a medium length, pretty light aftertaste. After adding some water the finish becomes a bit more spicy, a tiny bit peppery and also longer with something salty to it.

Springbank 21 Years Old Single Cask for Sweden

General facts: This bottling is a twentyone-year-old single cask bottling that has been matured in sherry cask, specifically one that previously was used to mature oloroso sherry. 318 bottles in total are available for the Swedish market only, ordering from the monopoly stores. The ABV is 47,5% and the whisky is neither chill-filtered nor artificially coloured.

Colour: Amber

Nose: At first I sense some salmiak and light smoke, the something creamy yet sweet-and-sour, like lemon-flavoured cream. It’s a quite bit buttery too and there’s a lot of tropical fruits as well, like papaya and perhaps even some grilled pineapples? Then vanilla and maple syrup. The nose deepens even more with a bit of air, and turns somewhat waxy with a bit of water added.

Taste: The taste of this whisky is actually softer than I had expected and very balanced too. Some fresh parsley (how fun is that?!) and old paper, like an old leatherback book actually. Then some tangy fruits and a lot of sweet-and-sour apples. Some Christmas spices appears, mainly ginger and cinnamon. With water the whisky turns fruitier still, with a lot of grapes and rhubarbs.

Finish: The aftertaste is long, with just a slight hint of that lovely parsley again. Then some malty sweetness, and the same kind of spiciness as in the taste but more subtle. With water some classic Springbank-leather appears and with that some vanilla sugar.  

To compare these two whiskies is not fair to neither, to be honest. The young, mischievous eleven-year-old against the more mature, heavy twentyone-year-old. I mean, come on. In this situation I’ll only give this advice if you’re even faced with this decision – follow your mood and gut feeling. Do you want something that keeps you on your toas throughout the entire dram and explodes with a couple of drops of water? Choose the eleven-year-old. Do you want something mature, rich with heavy complexity? Choose the twentyone-year-old. Easy, right? Or if you’re still hesitant (and someone else is paying) – choose both.