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Springbank 15 Year Old

Average score from 16 reviews and 56 ratings 86

Springbank 15 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Springbank
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 46.0%

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Springbank 15 Year Old

Well, well, well this one is quite the chameleon (hence the dubious title) and considering it's been open nigh on six months I feel it should have settled down and opened up by now, if it was ever going to. I hear that the sherry to bourbon casks may vary with the 15, with some suggesting this more recent bottle (c2018/19) is 100% sherry matured. That wouldn't surprise me either.

Review is neat and sat for, well, about fifteen minutes. Bottle is around two thirds full.

Nose - rubbery, twiggy and lightly smoked peat, sour barley sugars, mustyness, over ripe red berries and a little hint of saltiness all enveloped in big, creamy sherry notes. The sweeter notes sing loudest as they overlay a more smoky, herbal base; but there is this off-fruit sourness as well that I'm not 100% sure about here.

Taste - sweet and sour arrival with the barley sugars being up front and centre. Then the peat smoke unfurls and pricks at the tongue whilst the berry notes, a little more muted than on the nose, begin to show. Mouthfeel is thick and quite oily.

Finish - long. Some spices emerge with cardamom, cinnamon and a little clove. Some not unpleasant tannins add a touch of dryness and bitterness at the death.

Water rounds the sourness of the nose off a touch and heightens the creamy notes whilst further ramping up the peat and barley sugars on the palate. I prefer the taste with a drop or two of water but cant make my mind up about the nose. The finish is less tannic and more gingery - probably an improvement too.

So not what one would describe as an easy going malt but it's Springbank so not exactly unexpected. Its also not without a few awkward corners; that off-fruit funk is a little too heavy on the nose and throws it a wee bit out of balance for my tastes. That being said, when I get the water right in this, and when I'm in the mood for it, this can be a wonderful experience that has a bit of everything, and there's no doubting the spirit quality. The thing is though that it's not often I find myself reaching for it - It can be hard work. Too much sherry, perhaps? Good but not great etc etc.

@MadSingleMalt, notes you gotta goo-ga, gotta goo-ga, Give Up the Funk. notes

This is @Nozinan's type of funk.....


@MadSingleMalt I went through a huge P-Funk phase in college. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed this Springer more than @RianC

But I don’t necessarily disagree with his assessment here. This one grew on me, but I still like the 12 CS and the 10 more than this one.


Those who enjoy Springbank tend to love just about everything they release, but the 15 year offering is not without its detractors. Rumours abound about batches that are irredeemably sulphured. Frightening stuff. I admit to being Springbank devotee so I didn't mind taking a chance on this whisky (I bought two bottles completely blind). It's matured exclusively in ex-sherry casks, unlike the 12 Year Old Cask Strength and 10 Year Old which use a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks. As with all core bottlings from Springbank, the 15 Year Old is presented at 46% abv, natural colour, and unchill-filtered. More distilleries need to follow suit. Well done, Springbank.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose (undiluted): blackberry jam, dark fruits (dates, figs), a touch of brine, toffee, almonds, and something that took me awhile to identify...wool. Yes, wet wool. It's really interesting. Don't be put off! There was a hint of sulphur (spent match) when I first opened the bottle which worried me, but after a few weeks the spent match note completely dissapeared. Huzzah !
  • Palate (undiluted): rich, oily, warming, mixed berry (dare I say...huckleberry?) jam...but not overly sweet, some damp hay flavours, a little salted caramel, mild peat smoke, more almonds, and a somewhat chalky mineral note. It's quite pleasant, I promise.
  • Finish: medium length, drying but without any residual bitterness, oak spices, dark cocoa powder, icing sugar, vanilla, more blackberries, a little earthy peat, a bit of salted caramel lingers

I have not yet brought myself to add water to this whisky. I know I should, for science, but I haven't and I likely won't.

This whisky is incredibly complex. There are different flavours popping up every time I revisit it. This is most definitely NOT a background whisky. It's one that demands your attention. It's also a whisky that won't please everyone. And that's ok. Springbank is unapologetic whisky. It's different than anything else on the market these days, which is rare. While Springbank's 12 Year Cask Strength remains my favourite Campbeltown offering, their 15 Year Old is proving to be a very moreish whisky for me. Many people don't like this. One fairly well-known whisky reviewer recently gave this a 3/10 mark. I think Springbank 15 is absolutely delightful. I recommend you try this one before you buy it.

@OdysseusUnbound - I tried this in a bar a while back and didn't quite know what to make of it at first. I remember it being incredibly briny and very complex like you say; I eventually found it very enjoyable, if a little odd.

It's a bottle that I really should pick up so I can 'get to know it' a bit better. Thanks for the excellent review.


This whisky is all about spice and ginger notes. On the nose it is ginger biscuits and pear drops (acetone) althogh when it's been in the glass a while the pear drop note fades. On the palate their is gingerbread men, a hint of the apple strudel I picked up in the 12 year old and then the peat kicks in and you feel it in the back of your throat. Then as it fades you get a salty note and tanins. I'm generally not that keen on sherried whiskies because in my experience they are often just sherry and little else and I think if I wanted to taste that much sherry I'd just drink, you know. Sherry. But this does sherry in a goodway where it's just a part of the flavour profile and not the whole shebang.

Wonderful stuff.


I thank @cpstecroix for the reviewed sample. This is a review of the standard distillery bottling

Nose: medium intensity cereal-style barley-malt, very noticeable brine, some peat and smoke, but not a lot. Yes, this is prototypical Springbank. The flavours are mostly medium-pitched and slightly higher than medium-pitched. The wood flavours are mostly modest and mostly in the background. The quality of these respective flavours is quite high. Score: 23/25

Taste: the peat and smoke are much stronger on the delivery than in the nose, and offer a mixture of bitter and sweet peat flavours. Otherwise the delivery is a good translation of the flavours from the nose. The palatal peat and smoke flavours of this particular sample of Springbank has a higher peat and smoke influence than have many other samples of Springbank malt which I have sampled. Score: 22/25

Finish: rather long, ending on bitter peat and brine. Score: 20.5/25

Balance: very good in the nose, good-to-very good thereafter. Score: 21/25

Water added: 1) raised the pitch, added sweetness, and bundled flavours in the nose, and 2) merged flavours, brought out sweetness and licorice, and bundled flavours in the mouth. This is the very RARE instance in which I PREFER BOTH the nose and the palate with a little water added

Total Sequential Score: 86.5 points


Strength: strong flavours throughout. Score: 22/25

Quality: very high quality of all of the flavours. Score: 22.5/25

Variety: adequate variety, but this is mostly a peat and brine show. Score: 21/25

Harmony: great harmony in the nose, good to very good harmony in the mouth. Score: 21.5/25

Total Non-Sequential Score: 87 points


Comment: a lot of people like a little salt in their barley cereal. A lot of people also like peat and peat-smoke to influence their whiskies. Springbank is made for these people. This sample is a very prototypical Springbank, based on all of my prior experience. This is neither the best nor worst sample of Springbank I have encountered. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked this sample a lot more than I had liked a bar sample of Springbank 15 yo previously. You really cannot tell the provenance of a bar sample, so that is not too surprising. I like this particular style well enough, but I like the more heavily peated and more heavily brined whiskies more

@Ol_Jas, I was intending to differentiate the typical Springbank 'house style' from that of the 'house styles' of other distilleries, in particular Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Kilchoman. All things considered, from the same distillery, I would more often prefer to drink the better Longrows than most Springbanks. I have had some fabulous Springbanks, too, of course.

I do think that a person can to some degree desensitise himself to some tastes. Whether that desensitisation is physical, merely psychological, or a combination of the two, I am not at all sure. You have clearly been on record as a brine hound from the beginning. I am sympathetic to that style myself. If the peat in a briny whisky is absent or light, though, I am a little more partial to the distillate of the Pulteney Distillary than I am to the distillate of Springbank. Just a little, though. Springbank is OK, and can be truly great.

@vanPelt, as far as "when he wakes", yes, I went to bed before midnight last night at my sister's house, where we had a tasting for 9 persons.

With respect to my choice of a review background image, I was just looking for some salt water to suggest the brine.

@Victor , you close by saying, "I like this particular style well enough, but I like the more heavily peated and more heavily brined whiskies more."

Are you talking about other whiskies in general, or other Springbanks? Either way, what are some of the more heavily brined whiskies you prefer?

I've been chasing briny whiskies since my first taste of Campbeltown in 2010, but they're hard to find. It seems like my "saltiness receptors" (or whatever) have blown out by heavily peated whisky, maybe, and I don't taste that straight brininess—without being part of a peat explosion—so much in whiskies where I used to find it, like Springbank 10 for example.


Springbank 15 has been a friend of mine for a long time. A whisky I keep coming back to again and again. And there is a simpel reason: it is a beautiful and very balanced whisky!

Nose: Full, rich sherry. Spices and wood. Lovely inviting scent. Palate: Thick taste full of sherry. Just a hint of smoke in the background. Perhaps some coconut? Full of differen spices. Very complex. Finish: Medium long and very balanced.

As you might have figured a whisky I really like. Will be coming back to this one again! I love Spingbank!!


Nose: Mild peat & Sherry - along with unique notes such as Hazelnut, Alka-Seltzer & something along the lines of struck matches. Slightly waxy and quite mineral with a faint coastal whiff...

Mouth: Along the same lines as the nose, but not as sweet as suggested. Very round. Zesty and nutty, with bitter herbs. Medium body.

Finish: Fairly long - lemony, nutty with hints of peat. Some juniper & orange.

Probably better off getting the 12yo if you can find it. Not the peaty/salty Springbank notes you might expect.

Thanks for that closing comment. I've always had the impression that the 15 is not the Springbank for me, but I think this is the first time I've see anyone simply state it so clearly.


Springbank is rightly proud that all parts of its production, from malting to bottling, are carried out at the distillery. Not many distilleries can boast that so authenticity is at least assured.

The malt pours the colour of old gold, and has a characteristic piny aroma I associate with this distillery. Delve a little deeper and the aroma reveals coconut, vanillas and frangipane. Close to sublime!

A rich mouth feel is delivered with quite a strong alcoholic attack which is a pity as it detracts from the sweet flavours of pine, almonds and vanilla. The flavours become more dry and bitter through to the finish with coconuts and pine still present.

There is some class to this whisky in the aromas but the drinking experience is less fulfilling. A few smoother casks might have ironed out the bumps and pushed this malt into the 90’s, but I’m still a fan.

I have a feeling that once the discerning whisky drinking public grow to appreciate the particular flavour profile found in the Campbeltown malts they could become as vaunted as those from other coastal regions. The birth of Glengyle (Kilkerran) and rebirth of Glen Scotia bode well for the further development of this tiny region.

Yes, Nozinan is quite right, hear hear. A solid suggestion. While I don't have much familiarity with the 15 year variety, I have found that a rough and bitter Springbank often smoothes out with time. Not sure why, but the phenon is magickal.

There IS something uniquely appealing about Campbeltown whiskies. After Islay, it's my main area of interest. Even when Glen Scotia or Kilkerran disappoint, I keep coming back for more. (Springbank rarely disappoints.)


With everyone talking about the CV, the 10yo, the 12yo and the Cask Strength, one would almost forget there was a 15yo Springbank.

Nose: fresh nose,but a little waxy, dominant notes of orange peel, a whiff of honey, scents of iodine (seaweed) A second layer of subtle fruit, (pears, cherries, pineapple and bananas), sweet fudge, traces of sherry, leather, peat and oakiness.

Mouth: bitter and dry palate, a bit of smoke with a touch of lemon zest. Undertones of spice, soft notes of earthy peat.

Finish: Lasting and dry, elements of genever (juniper), lemon, leather and noticeable traces of peat and tar.

Conclusion: I love Springbank and it was an excellent whisky, but I was not really blown away by it. It is not a real step up from the 12 or the 10yo. That being said, it doesn't need to, it is an enjoyable smooth whisky with a most enjoyable nose. Not overly complex, but an artisanal tour the force.


This Campbeltown distillery does get a tad confusing. Springbank, Hazleburn, Kilkerran are all made there. But then there's Glengyle - I know it's annexed to Springbank but is it actually the same distillery or independent? I can't ever recall seeing bottles released under the Glengyle name.

No matter - this is a straight up 15yo Springbank which starts with a massive dollop of salt on the nose - mouthwatering on its own. Underneath that there is a subtle soft fruitiness, (pears, bananas) but not too strong. Very slight sweet fudge and oakiness too. After time, I can even detect a slight seaweed hint. Very complex but everything is very subtle - nothing stands out except the saltiness.

Sweet and sour palate. It starts off soft and sweet but then I got a really nice sharp tang - like a lemon boiled sweet, (acid drops almost). The saltiness is there but nowhere near as much as I expected from the nose. A bit of smokiness too. The mouthfeel is relatively thin. This then gives way to a lasting dry and astringent finish - just the way I like it!

Non-Chill Filtered, no colouring, no fancy finishing and an independent distillery. This is no nonsense natural whisky just the way it should be! (Not that I have anything against different cask finishes but sometimes it's good to appreciate a straight-down-the-line no messing single malt).

This whisky is a love-hate relationship. Some days, I swear it's great. Other days, I hate it. Too weak one day, balanced the next.

This is definitely no instant gratification malt. It demands respect. This is definitely not a whisky I'd pour for someone who's new to it all.

So it's tough to assign a rating to Springbanks. It's not really 90+, but it's not less than an 80 either, so on average I'd say it's an 86. But we all have to be careful about assigning a score to personal taste. Too much variation!

Might try the cask strength next then - cheers! The Claret wood looks to be in short supply but sounds interesting. I did try the Longrow Burgundy Wood finish a few months ago and that was very intriguing. (missed Longrow from my review notes - I knew there was another Springbank name out there). Exceptionally complex and definitely not a beginner's whisky.


The Springbank 15 yr old is just great after a salmon dinner. Its sherry flavors with light smoke a just a delight. I haven't been a big fan of Springbank until recently when a friend gave me a dram of the 12 yr old Claret Wood. I bought some of it along with the 15 yr old. I have been converted! I would rate it an 88.

Always been intrigued by the Springbank whiskies. Didn't find out about Claret in time. Gone from Oregon now. Bummer. It would have been up my alley. I'm thinking of the 12 year cask strength offering. On the fence right now. Thanks for your brief but intriguing review, Jim.

Tasted the 15 about four months ago at a pub. Can't recall my impression. It's been too long, and a I had afew more drams after the 15 during the course of the evening


Some time ago I was fortunate enough to receive a kiss from a lovely girl I was very much interested in at the time. I recall the kiss as having a soft, delicate sweetness about it yet with the hidden presence of a deeper passion that could potentially be unlocked with the passage of time. For me, if this “kiss” could be bottled, it would take the form of the Springbank 15 Year Old.

Upon nosing I get notes of honey, brown sugar, vanilla, port and a slight smell of cocoa. The sherry influence is quite clear upon the first inhalation. Upon tasting, the most prevalent characteristic is the balance (which is excellent). The vanilla from the nosing is present along with butter, and a hint of salted chocolate as it reaches the back of the mouth. The finish ended a little too soon (much like the kiss) but it was nonetheless pleasant while it lasted and the memories lingered.

Overall, I feel this is a wonderfully balanced whisky that would be the sort of thing I could wind down to after a long day at work or on the road. I would recommend this to someone who is interested in the Campbeltown or Islay regions, but not quite ready to tackle a peat monster. This is actually the first Springbank I have tried so I am very interested in tasting some of their older expressions – I feel with a little age the character and complexity of the scotch would turn what is a very pleasant experience into a very memorable drink (and for the record if the older Springbanks are similar to the subsequent kisses from the aforementioned lass I will be a very happy man indeed).

Seems like a wonderful kiss. With just a lower score. But we all have our own scales. Nice review nonetheless! I never had a Springbank so far, but I am looking forward to taste this one.


Nose: Oak, citrus, dark suger, caramel and candy sweets

Taste: Lively and spicy. citrus and lemon, bubbly and butter. Some fudge. Light summer flowers and at the same time malt and soil.

Summary: A really really nice dram, love it. It really like the "hand-made" feeling to it. A great long finish that want me to go to Campbeltown and Springbank for a visit. Some nice thick feeling and at the same time light fresh. A great whisky after a great dinner. Note, I tried this one together with a Glenfarclas 21yo and think this one was one notch better.

Jens, i totally agree this is a fine whisky. I got to try the 18,15 and CV together a few days ago, and the 15 (which i own) is really nice. the 18 was amazing too. 46% is a really good point for OB.

slainte! and enjoy your holiday!


This is my first Campbeltown, and I am very excited about it. There are a couple Springbank whiskies I have been looking at and trying to decide upon at the local shop, but I wanted to taste this 15yr I received as a sample first. I am not sure what to expect from it, honestly.

The Springbank 15yr is 100% matured in ex-sherry casks, and is bottled at 46%.

Nose: Smoke and spice! A bit of pepper. This is definitely a close cousin of Islay whiskies. Some salty sea air comes through after the smoke. There is just a hint of pear in there somewhere. I'm returning to the nose after the first taste, and I am still not getting the sherry influence. Perhaps this is because I just tasted the Sonnalta PX and Nectar D'Or from Glenmorangie, but I really expected a better performance from a whisky that was 100% matured for 15 years in sherry casks.

Body: Medium body, with a rich mouth feel.

Palate: Spicy! A bit of smoke coming through. A touch salty. On my second sip, I am getting just a hint of fruit. Honeydew melon? Not really sweet.

Finish: Smoke, salt & pepper.

This is a good whisky, but it doesn't really hold true to the tasting notes offered by the distillery: "sherry, dark chocolate, christmas cake, almonds, toffee..." I just don't get any of this. Too bad, as it sounds great! =/

Coming back to this whisky, I am getting basically the exact profile, but this time I am tasting the whisky as the first of the day. It is good, but I still expect a lot more from a whisky matured 100% in ex-sherry casks.


This is my first Cambeltown Whisky and what a real pleasure. On the nose there is toffee, honey and sea-spray with a hint of spicecake and oranges, on the palate its smooth and buttery with honey and smoke developing around the edges with a dry rich orange and oaky finish. Perfect with a with a smooth Guantanamera Cristales cigar.

Noticeable surprisingly (although I consider myself a novice) was the difference in the miniature and the 70cl bottle, the former having a far more defined sea salt aroma, unless I'm all whiskey'd out having tried quite a few new malts this past couple of weeks.

Nice review. I recently was gifted a bottle of this fine whisky with which to toast my father's passing on Dec 2nd. It was perfect; and as you say, buttery and smooth. I find considerable smoke in mine, at about the level of a Highland Park. And, an undercurrent of dark chocolate...

Matt - I am enjoying a SB 18y - lovely. I am comparing to a Talisker 18 and hesitate to say but it seems much more complex and robust in comparison - though the Talisker is good - until put head to head with either SB 18 or Aberlour 18 (huge toffee/butterscotch now). I think you were the one that pushed me in this direction - so thanks!


I tasted this one also during my trip to Springbank and bought a bottle of it too. This is Springbank 15 years old has matured 100% sherry casks. That is very easily noticed from the nose. The sherry and caramel sweetness in the taste leaves nice "legs" in your mouth. Additionally all the spices in the taste can be compared with traditional Xmas pudding. This whiskey would be perfect to be enjoyed with it too.

Excellent, thanks. I have noticed couple other instances, where there are 2 same descriptions of the whiskey in the pull down menu, the small pictures of the bottle match and but not the final big picture anymore.

I've updated this review so it shows the correct bottle.

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