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What's happening at Springank?

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RikS started a discussion

I was just checking in on Springbank and noted that the prices have literally exploded upwards, and that almost every expression is sold out at every retailer I could find… what happened? I mean, the 10yr old e.g. used to be readily available and quite conservatively priced last I bought one!?

about one year ago

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@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@RikS It would seem that Springbank is declaring itself a luxury product, exclusive to those to whom money is no object. Not for the likes of us lowly whisky lovers.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

Sadly, Springbank seems to have discovered that it has been discovered. The prices have been going up for some time, and the availability has been close to nil for a few years now.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@Nock
Nock replied

Supply and demand. The last 3-4 years has seen an explosion of love for Springbank (and Campbeltown whiskies) on the Internet. And people have been discovering the unique qualities of Campbeltown whiskies and fallen in love. If you follow any of the youtube Single Malt reviewers you will notice a consistent trend in all things Springbank. That clearly has been having an effect. Well, that and Springbank has really been making a quality product.

Springbank really only has two options.

  1. Keep prices the same and watch people desperately grab it up and flip it online for far more the price. (think of Buffalo Trace products). If that keeps going you will see Springbank become the Pappy Van Winkle of the Scotch world. The Local Barely bottles are already going for 5 to 10x’s their original MSRP. This option is not doing Springbank any favors.

  2. Raise prices and listen to customers complain.

about one year ago 6Who liked this?

RikS replied

Crazy…what can happen when you take your eyes off the ball for a moment. It’s been a while, and I just revisited as I was running low on my standard springbank 10, but last I checked, Springbank profiled themselves along the lines of “the honest and genuine family-run remainer in Campbeltown that was always going to produce a good product for a fair price…”.

I guess someone saw the light…. The green light!

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@RikS It's hard to blame them. We see whisky as a product with a history, culture and mythology, but that doesn't keep the lights on in the distillery. Costs have gone up for all parts of production.

While I'm no fan of excess profits, I would much rather see Springbank reap the profits and remain financially secure in the face of inflation than that money going to speculators who are essentially depriving us of access, providing no value of their own, and making tonnes of money on a product they contributed nothing to create.

about one year ago 8Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

The circumstances in Canada:

Springbank's MSRP have not increased significantly over the years but, demand is high. It has entered the realm of "allocated lottery product", in government regulated monopolies, and in sole proprietor retail stores- pricing is increased or bundled with less demanded products. Secondary/private sellers are causing inflated prices.

Here is a link from a recent provincial lottery results that highlights supply and demand:

www.saq.com/en/new-products/lottery

about one year ago 6Who liked this?

RikS replied

@Nozinan Yes, it is indeed hard to argue against that.... And you're right, if the prices are just a reflection of supply and demand, I'd also rather have the $$$ go to the distillery than the buy'n flip crowd...

Alas, that also means that I ain't likey to drink any funky Campbeltown in the foreseeable future.... :(

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

Has anyone found an affordable, available whisky with similar characteristics to Springbank 10? Given the unique taste and smell of Springbank nothing is going to be the same. But there must be something out there that is close enough. I thought Benromach 10 had certain flavour similarities, but it's 43% and, as I recall, chill-filtered and coloured.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@Nock
Nock replied

@BlueNote – Most people have simply gone over to Kilkerran 12yo at 46%. There is a huge degree of similarity. Obviously, they are made by the same people. But now Kilkerran is getting hard to find. Glen Scotia is the last of the Campbeltown distilleries. I think the 15yo (which is really good) is far more fruity than funky. I was shockingly surprised by the Double Cask. Both bottles I have had were really, really good. There is more peat than is typically in Springbank, but it is no peat monster. It is more like a Benromach peat. Somewhere between Highland Park and Bowmore.

If you leave Campbeltown my own personal secret Springbank replacement is . . . Bruichladdich! Specifically, the Islay Barley. When I was tasting last with @Victor and @bwmccoy I made them both try my Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2009 next to my bottle of Springbank 10yo (in preparation for a flight of 12yo CS’s, @Victor’s 14yo, and my 20yo Springbank).

@bwmccoy is welcome to chime in if I misrepresent his view’s, but he seemed very shocked at how much similarity there was to find between Springbank 10yo and the Bruichladdich Islay Barley. Further, the Islay Barley is at 50% ABV and far more readily available. I am a huge fan of what the Bruichladdich distillery is doing.

about one year ago 5Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@Nock I have a bottle of the Bruichladdich Islay Barley. I'm really enjoying it. I can't say I had noticed the resemblance to Springbank 10. I'll pay more attention next time, in fact I still have some of both left and I'll do a head to head. The Islay Barley is definitely on my "to buy again" list. The Organic is not.

I have one more Kilkerran 12 in the cabinet. I agree, it's lovely stuff, but as you say, it's becoming harder to find and showing regular price creep.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@Nock I've never tasted Springbank next to Bruichladdich. It's an interesting idea. I'm not sure I think the flavour profiles are that similar (I think Springbank is more peated than the laddies, thought the PCs and Octomores may be more heavily peated and more like Longrow), but in terms of being interesting I think they could very well be. I do enjoy the classic laddie and the old laddie 10 (I sadly don't have the newer 10 at 50%). "Peat" was delicious and one big regret was that I didn't realize how good the "laddie classic" was until it was no longer available to get a backup.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@Nozinan I have fond memories of that long gone 10 year old. The current Classic Laddie, Scottish Barley has a certain youthful appeal and is quite drinkable, but it's not in the same league as the original version, nor does it rival the excellent Islay Barley. Bonus points for 50% ABV, NCF and no added colour, though. The one Bruichladdich I did not like is the Organic version. Organic is a nice idea, but it has to taste good. All of this is, of course, just my humble opinion.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@Nock
Nock replied

@BlueNote, I would very much look forward to hearing your findings on that Head-to-Head. And I agree on your assessment of the old 10yo. I am glad I still have two unopened bottles I squirreled away. My hope was that one day they would re-release the 10yo and I could compare.

@Nozinan, I find both the Springbank and Bruichladdich lines to be quite variable with regard to peat (and both are simply quite variable . . . part of their charm). Often when I taste either alone I will not notice any peat at all. It is really only when I sample them beside unpeated whiskies that I can pick up on the ever so slight peaty presence. I remember hearing that the presence of peat in Bruichladdich comes from the water and not actual peat in the malt. My current bottle of Springbank 10yo is the best I have had, and it took several years open to develop into what it is now. And the peat presence is ever so subtle. Further, I am not talking about the Classic Laddy. While that is fun and all, I am really talking about the Islay Barley version of the Classic Laddy. That Islay Barley really has a funkiness and depth that is comparable (but still different) to the Springbank 10yo. Again, your milage may vary. But for me, that is the closest example I have found outside of Campbeltown.

Ok, I will give you one more . . . but it is further afield. Glen Garioch Founder’s Reserve. There is a distinctly funky quality to that distillery. Again, not Springbank at all . . . but if you like a funky whisky it is one to explore.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@bwmccoy
bwmccoy replied

@Nock - You did not misrepresent my views on the Springbank 10yo and the Bruichladdich Islay Barley comparison. When you first proposed the idea, I think my reaction was similar to what @BlueNote and @Nozinan expressed. I would have never thought of trying those two head-to-head. That actually added to my surprise at how well they complimented each other. I'm not sure how you came up with that idea, but I'm glad you did. Thanks for sharing it with me (and @Victor) in person and all of us on here!

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan replied

@BlueNote I don’t even remember when I picked this one up. But your mentioning it reminded me that I had a 200 cc bottle of it “somewhere”. My ownership of it predates my database. I should crack it…

about one year ago 5Who liked this?

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@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 replied

@Nock I agree on the Glen Garioch. I have a 1995 Bourbon matured/peated Batch 10. Every time I've tasted from the bottle the flavour profile changes in the degrees of funk and peat. The funk is very reminiscent of pre-2016 bottling of Springbank 10, which were variable.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@Nozinan that one is quite old and might be better than the current version. You should crack it. I see it is 46%, so it goes back a few years.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@Nock I’ll try and do the head to head this weekend.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@YakLord
YakLord replied

@BlueNote I opened my bottle of this a couple years ago (after a few years in storage). Can confirm that it is nice.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

@BlueNote
BlueNote replied

@YakLord I must admit I only had a sample of the current Organic. You know how it goes with taste buds on any given day. I didn't think much of it on that day, but I'll try it again as soon as I have an opportunity. I'll bum another taste from my friend.

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

@RikS Springbank haven't increased their prices much. The 10 was around £40-45 a few years ago now it is £50. The 15 was £65 now its £75. So prices have increased but no more than any other whisky.

The issue is availability. After years of being a bit of secret favourite for enthusiasts it has suddenly exploded and become a sought after whisky for collectors and flippers. They are still a fairly small distillery and they just don't produce enough to keep everyone happy. Certainly not enough to cope with a sudden massive increase in demand.

This has meant it sells out quickly when it is in shops and some unscrupulous retailers take advantage by higely increasing their prices for Springbank. I love Springbank but honestly it can't possibly justify the hype it currently gets.

To be fair to Mitchell's the owners they do try to track down retailers who scalp customers and if they find anyone selling their stock of Springbank at way above RRP they refuse to sell to those retailers in future.

Springbank did take advantage of their popularity with collectors recently by releasing some limited addition aged bottles for their 200th anniversary which is coming up in 5 years. The countdown collection. These come with a certificate of authenticity a small sample bottle so you never have to open the actual bottle and an enormous price tag. They're clearly taking advantage of their popularity with collectors with these releases and good luck to them. Hopefully collectors chase these bottles and leave the regular stuff to regular drinkers.

I was successful in a ballot to buy a bottle of Springbank from the society this week. 5 years old, cask strength for £50. I think that's a reasonable price.

If you're in the UK and want a bottle of Springbank try the auctions. The standard releases don't fetch that much above retail. I've brought a bottle of Hazelburn 10 for £45 and a Springbank 10 for £55 in the last few months. I wouldn't pay any more than that. The likes of the 18 and 12CS do still tend to get a bit steep at auction.

about one year ago 6Who liked this?

RikS replied

@Wierdo what auctions do you use?

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

RikS replied

@Wierdo if I go to the whiskey, exchange here in London and search for available springbanks, the price here starts at £750 ????

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@Timp
Timp replied

@RikS I buy from scotchwhiskyauctions.com and all the Springbank 10s went for £55 and £60 this month, and the 15s for £110 or £120.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

@Timp
Timp replied

Correction a few for a bit higher..

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

RikS replied

@Timp inclusive of fees, or do you also have to pay auction fees and shipping etc in addition?

about one year ago 2Who liked this?

@Timp
Timp replied

@RikS yes 10% buyers charge, optional breakage cover and then shipping fee of about £6.50 for multiples or 9 for a single. Last two I purchased were won for £50 a piece, a tenner for buyers premium then 15 including tax for delivery and then 3.60 ( inc ) for loss and breakage cover. Last ten I got in a shop was a couple of years ago and cost me £70.

Interestingly the owner of a big on line outfit told me in his shop last year that no one needs to buy the ten at auction, but bearing in mind you only occasionally find them in a shop I took his comment as a dig at me using the auction as presumably all shops would like us to get from them. I did get a fifteen from him at around 90 though so he wasn’t gouging too much.

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

@RikS same as @Timp I use Scotch Whisky Auctions. I just set a limit that is sensible and if it goes higher I don't allow myself to get sucked in. Some months it seems everyone just pays silly money. Other months you can pick up a bottle for a reasonable price. Like I say I got the Hazelburn for £5 below retail and the Springbank for £5 more. Then you have buyers fees at 10% and delivery. I try to avoid winning on only one bottle because then the delivery fees for that one bottle become quite steep as opposed to if its spread out over 2 or 3 bottles.

The other thing to do is set email alerts for when stock comes in at all the main retailers whisky exchange, MoM etc and just hope you have your phone on you when that email drops!

about one year ago 3Who liked this?

Wierdo replied

Interesting to read all the comments about Springbank-like products. Obviously other than Kilkerran which is made by the same people using the same methods at a distillery 5 minutes up the road there's nothing from any other distillery that could be a direct substitute for Springbank. But lots of other whiskies do share characteristics with Springbank. Other people have mentioned most of them here. But I would add name to the list; Ardnamurchan. It's not a direct replacement for Springbank but it does share some similarities. Jenny Karlsson who used to work for Springbank helped set up Ardnamurchan and they share many similarities, Ardnamurchan is lightly peated, it is quite flinty and mineral, it has a certain funk they also seem to like experimenting with different cask types. If you haven't tried any Ardnamurchan I'd recommend anyone grab a bottle if you see one on the shelf. IMO it's good stuff.

There is also a positive to the current feverish popularity that offsets the frustration over availability issues. Springbank is NOT Macallan. This isn't some stylized watered down whisky with a pretentious name sold in a lalique container with an enormous price tag. This is as down to earth whisky as you can get. They don't chill filter, they don't add colour, they bottle at a minimum of 46%, they don't even give you a box with the bottle and chances are the label will be scuffed on the bottle because apparently the machine that puts the labels on tends to scuff them and they can't be bothered to replace it. This sort of whisky doesn't normally become this popular, yet they can't sell enough of the stuff.

Other distilleries are taking note of what is happening at Springbank and thinking they'd like to be the next Springbank not the next Macallan. Because it is far more realistic that they can achieve being the next Springbank. There is even a term that has started to be used 'the Springbank model'. The Springbank model is bottle at 46% minimum, don't chill filter, don't add colour, use decent casks and experiment a bit with different barley strains and cask types, peat levels etc. Practically all the new distilleries that are springing up all over the place now use 'the Springbank model' quite a few older established distilleries are changing the way they produce whiskies to reflect this too. So I would say that the silver lining to this particular cloud is the amount of other distilleries looking at the phenomenal success Springbank are currently enjoying and saying 'we fancy a bit of that. Let's copy them'.

about one year ago 7Who liked this?

MRick replied

@Wierdo They created the model for what Ralfy has been banging on about forever: ‘Craft presentation’.

about one year ago 4Who liked this?

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