Barrels at Springbank distillery

Small, but perfectly formed – all about Springbank

Read all about Springbank in our guide about Campbeltown's most famous distillery.

Introduction to Springbank Distillery

Located on the shore of Campbeltown Loch in the west of Scotland, Springbank is a true whisky icon, a beacon of staunch whisky-making tradition which, to many, singles it out as the most important distillery in Scotland.

The History of Springbank

Springbank traces its history to 1828, when Archibald Mitchell built his distillery on the site of an illicit still, making Springbank the 14th licensed distillery in Campbeltown. Today, Springbank is one of only three distilleries operating in Campbeltown and lays claim to being the oldest independent family-owned distillery in Scotland.

Springbank's Whisky-Making Tradition

Springbank is as old-school as a whisky distillery gets. As other distilleries undergo slick design firm-managed revamps, or engage in cost-cutting efficiencies and modernisations in production, Springbank continues to produce single malts just has it always has done. There is nothing gimmicky or flashy about it – this is part of its charm (note the simple presentation and distinctively unfashionable Gothic lettering of its bottles). Credit must go to the late Hedley G Wright (who died in 2023 at the age of 92), who steered the company through good times and bad, with a steadfast dedication to maintaining the traditions established by the distillery founder, his great-great grandfather Archibald Mitchell.

The Distinctiveness of Springbank Single Malt

Though Springbank boasts a long and storied history, it was only as recently as the 1990s that Springbank single malt achieved global renown. During this time, a succession of top-quality bottlings were released which cemented the distillery’s reputation for producing world-class whisky. Demand for Springbank whisky has never been higher than it is now. The distillery sells out of its entire production in the matter of a week, while scarcity occasioned by its limited production determines that prices on the secondary market can reach eye-watering heights.

Is Springbank worthy of its stratospheric reputation? Considering the quality, individuality and integrity of its single malts, the answer has to be yes. It’s lots of little factors that make Springbank the whisky that it is, and that makes it so irresistible to whisky lovers. One thing that makes Springbank so unusual – almost unique, in fact, in the modern world of whisky – is that every stage of the production process – from the malting of the barley right through to bottling – is undertaken at the distillery.

Springbank is the only distillery in Scotland to malt 100% of its barley using traditional floor malting methods. Other similarly traditional production features include wooden washbacks used for fermentation, a worm tub cooling system and a direct-fired still. It is rare for any distillery to direct-fire its stills these days. Some in the whisky industry believe that this makes a significant difference to the character of the whisky produced from such stills. The malt itself is distilled two-and-a-half times, meaning that the low wines from the first distillation are collected and re-distilled with the feints, so some of the spirit has been distilled twice and some three times. All of this contributes to the unique character of Springbank’s new make, which in turn produces a singular and distinctive single malt whisky.

Springbank's Exceptional Quality and Rarity

Production at Springbank is very small (750,000 litres of spirit per year; by contrast, Talisker produces three million litres; Glenfiddich: 21 million). It is this, by modern distillery standards, miniscule production, combined with the exceptional quality of the final product, that makes Springbank single malt so highly prized.

The Springbank Whisky Range

The core Springbank range consists of 10 year-old, 15-year-old, 18-year-old and 21-year-old single malts. Springbank 25-year-olds and 30-year-olds have also been released. In addition to the core range, you will find the limited-edition, cask-strength Local Barley single malt (released annually). Other special-edition cask-finish bottlings include Pedro Ximenez Sherry cask and Palo Cortado Sherry cask-matured 10-year-olds. Annual limited releases of the older single malts, as well as independent bottlings, are rare and highly sought-after.

Tasting Notes: What Makes Springbank Unique

Generally speaking, Springbank is a complex, full-bodied, gently peated, maritime dram. Its characteristic richness of flavour a result of multiple factors: most notably a slow germination of the barley, slow distillation of the new make spirit and patient maturation of the new make in (typically) a combination of ex-Sherry and ex-Bourbon casks. This richness is expressed with notes of vanilla, cereals, dried fruits, barley sugar and light peat (NB: Springbank single malt is one of three single malts produced at the Springbank distillery – the other two being the unpeated Hazelburn and the heavily peated Longrow).

Securing a Bottle of Springbank

Hard to find it may be, but Springbank single malt is without doubt a worthy icon of Scotch whisky. If you are fortunate enough to get your hands on one, cherish it.

Springbank Private Sherry Cask 341
HED21553 / 70cl / 57.7%
Drawn from a privately owned fresh sherry cask and bottled at the distillery in 2018, this Springbank from the 1993 vintage offers a distinctive profile. The nose presents notes of cloves, eucalyptus, sherry, oak, orange peel, plum pudding, and toffee. Meanwhile, the palate unfolds with elements of dry oak, milk chocolate, cinnamon custard, blackcurrants, and hints of liquorice.
Springbank 25 Year Old Fresh Sherry Hogshead Starkicker
HED47016 / 70cl / 50.1%
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Springbank distillery, seeking capital and publicity after a closure period, made whisky casks available to the public. Whisky enthusiasts formed syndicates to acquire these casks. Now, several decades later, exclusive Springbank syndicate bottlings featuring remarkable vintages and age statements are emerging in the secondary market. Distilled in 1998 within a fresh sherry hogshead, this particular expression underwent a 25-year maturation period before being bottled by Springbank in 2023 at 50.1% ABV.
Springbank 31 Year Old Cadenhead`s Authentic Collection
HED37320 / 70cl / 50.5%
An extremely rare bottle of vintage single malt, distilled in 1965 at the legendary Springbank and released in 1996 by Cadenhead, Scotland`s oldest independent bottler. The whisky has a very complex and mature profile, marked by sherry and dry fruit notes. The original wooden presentation case is included.
Glen Scotia distillery

Interested in Campbeltown distilleries?

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