Whisky Advocate

Review: Springbank 18 year old (2010 release)

July 8th, 2010

Springbank, 18 year old, 46%, $160
A good dose of sherry here, but there’s plenty of Springbank character coming through too! Gobs of ripe, red berried fruit (strawberry, rhubarb, red currant, raspberry), especially on the nose, along with raisin. It’s all on a bed of blueberry pancakes, toffee and fig cake. Coconut and brine emerge occasionally on the palate and linger on the finish. A very nice whisky, although I wonder what it would taste like with just a little less sherry influence?

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 88

No Responses to “Review: Springbank 18 year old (2010 release)”

  1. Gal says:

    I actually like that sherry influence you are taking about.
    care to compare this one to the 15 year old i have ? how do they compare?

  2. brian bradley (brian47126) says:

    More than I am willing to part with for an 18. I very much enjoy the 10 year 100 proof bottle, and it is at a much better price point.

  3. Scribe says:

    Brian, you raise a great point I’ve always thought about — although I will admit to being far less knowledgeable on “malt matters” than other commenters.

    Here we have a $160 whisky, rated at 88 by John, who has never steered me wrong with his ratings in the past. Yet there are other bottles, sometimes under $100, that get in the low 90s.

    I realize that part of it is personal taste — e.g., if you like peat, etc. — but I’ve never quite figured out the “relativity guide” that would let me clearly understand whether, in fact, an 88-rated $160 bottle of whisky is better than a 92-rated $95 bottle.

    Don’t mean to go off-topic, but was on my mind…apologies!

    • Texas says:

      I would say that if a reviewer is giving a $160 88 points and a $95 92 points then they are stating that the cheaper whisky is better..in their opinion.

  4. Texas says:

    Looking forward to seeing your review of the 2010 10 year Springbank. I think it is just fantastic.

  5. Cary says:

    This whisky (which I think is great) is approximately 64 pounds in the UK where taxes are much higher than here. The US distributor must think we’re fools with too much money to spend.

  6. David says:

    Wow that’s a hefty price tag, for the US price, I know it’s been said before but with the pound not doing as strong as it has been, you can easily get it for much cheaper from a UK distributer, if they ship to your state. I mean it goes for about 56 pounds at Royal Mile Whiskies, which is about $70 cheaper than stateside. That is just ridiculous.

    • Bill H. says:

      Agreed. I wonder who or what is to blame for the markup.

      At The Whisky Exchange, Springbank 10 is £25.49 ex VAT, which at today’s exchange rate comes out to $38.63; it’s normally $58 at Astor Wine (but currently marked down to $50). That’s roughly a 48% markup. Fine.

      Springbank 15 is £35.70 ex VAT, which is $54; it’s $90 at Astor: a 66% markup.

      Springbank 18 is £53.57 ex VAT, which is $81.15; it’s $165 at Astor. That’s more than a 100% markup.

      If the markup on the 15 and 18 were comparable to that of the 10 I would understand, but 100%? What accounts for this? Are tariffs progressive?

      If these were priced comparably in the UK–say if the 18 were £107 ex VAT (£125.72)–how would Springbank expect its domestic sales to be affected?

      Whoever’s to blame (Springbank, distributors, US retailers–I’m assuming tariffs aren’t progressive), the extreme markup of the 18 yo can’t be doing Springbank any favors. I for one simply can’t afford this, and my resentment after doing the math would make me balk even if I could.

      And Springbank is one of my favorite distilleries. I’ve gone through two bottles of the first release of the 18 yo (two of Longrow 18 as well), but I ordered them from the UK at the cost of what one bottle would have cost me here.

      • Steve Fox says:

        I am the National sales manager for Preiss Imports
        People can call use any names they would like I just wish everyone would do their home work
        You can find the 10yr as low as $45, the 15yr for $82 and the 18yr for $125 some retailer still have the gift box from last year and they cost a lot more
        In the UK the BT size sold in 700ml
        In the US it is 750ml also you have shipping to get to the US and the Feds are cracking down on the UK shippers
        The taxes will also change from state
        I talk to a lot of the US import small to large and our mark uo is not out of line
        If any one would like to call me one this my # is 818-249-6680

        • Bill H. says:

          I think my post qualifies as homework and that the question it provoked–”What accounts for this?”–is justified. I understand that bottle size and taxes account for the increase in cost, which is why the cost of the 10 yo doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. It’s the progressive increase from 10 to 15 to 18 that’s curious, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask whether the importer might be the cause. Getting answers is homework, and asking questions in a forum like this is one way to go about that.

          Note that the US prices I gave are those of one of the most affordable retailers in NYC (citing another popular NYC retailer asking $105 for the 15, I thought would be unfair) and that their price of $165 for the 18 is not far from the $160 that John posted with his review. Is that $160 the suggested retail price? If so, suggested by whom? John? What’s the basis for that?

          My question stands: what accounts for the progressive increase–an increase, btw, that is more or less consistent everywhere I’ve looked. Binny’s in Chicago has comparable prices on the 10 and 15, but $150 on the 18, which is better, but still a progressive increase merely less dramatic than the one I cited and have seen elsewhere in NYC. Some are asking $125, you say? Now that’s more like it! Where are they? And do they ship?

          -b

          • Steve Fox says:

            Thank you for your in put
            I will not talk or go over retailers on a blog
            You can give me a call 818-249-6680

          • I think that the reason for a higher markup for the 18yo is that, even at a low markup, these would be over $100, a price that few are willing to pay. So a retailer has to consider that the case of 18yo he bought will remain on the shelf possibly 3-4 times longer than the case of 10yo. The extra time spent on the shelf, tying down the retailer’s cash is (I think) the reason for the higher markup. Of course, one could argue that if it was at $100 instead of $160 it would sell faster … but my hunch is that the retailer figure that once you’re over the $100 mark, it makes scant difference. Just my thoughts, as a consumer (not a retailer).

        • mongo says:

          the springbank 18 is $82 ex-vat at the whisky exchange as bill h. notes. okay, so that’s a 700 ml bottle. let’s see what that would be for 750 ml: hmmm less than $88. that’s still a far cry from the $125 price you mention (which seems to be only in california, and most california liquor stores do not ship spirits outside ca), let alone the recommended retail of $160, which is in reality the neighbourhood that the majority of reputed dealers are selling it at everywhere else in the u.s. (http://www.wine-searcher.com/find/springbank+18/1/usa)

          i know that’s what the macallan 18 sells at. but springbank, as great as it is, does not have macallan’s name recognition in the mass market. occasional drinkers are not going to buy it and you end up pricing out or alienating core customers.

  7. Matt L says:

    Back in the cigar boom days (late ’90s), someone put out a cigar “infused with 25 y.o. Springbank.” It was like smoking a bellini – cloyingly sweet, slight alcohol bite and a strangely fuzzy feel to the wrapper. Put me (probably unfairly) off Springbank to this day. However, as my interest in whisky is waxing once more, I do feel inclined to give Springbank a fair trial, but I don’t think at this price point.

    What expression of Springbank (or Longrow, which frankly, I find more intriguing) would y’all recommend, particularly at a reasonable price point (not necessarily cheap, just not slap-my-head I should have used that money for something I know I liked expensive)?

    • David says:

      The Spingbank 15 is one of their best expressions, I also really like the Longrow 14 yr.

    • brian bradley (brian47126) says:

      Matt, try the Springer 10 year 100 proof, and the Longrow CV which can be ordered from binnys and if memory serves me, fall around the 50 dollar price-point. I love both, and they are on my shelf at standard rotation. An excellent product, and a good price. They may be a touch hotter then the older lot; however, you will know from there whether you wish to purchase more expensive aged bottles from this line.

      • Matt L says:

        Thanks David, Brian.
        The CV sounds like a good starting point for the Longrow. Seems like more reasonable pricing than other expressions.

    • Texas says:

      Matt L…you just can’t beat the current 2009/2010 Springbank 10. 46%, lightly peated, lemony, buttery, just wonderful stuff. Spec’s Key discount allows you to get it for $55.

      • Matt L says:

        Thanks, Texas.
        That makes it pretty accessible.

        • Texas says:

          The other good thing about the 10 as opposed to the 15 and 18 is that it is mainly bourbon casks and allows more of the Springbank distillate flavor to come through.

    • Sjoerd de Haan says:

      If it is available in the USA you might want to check out the Longrow 7yo Gaja Barolo finish. It is one of the betst I have tried so far.

      • Alex Cranstoun says:

        The Gaja Barolo is available stateside but Park Avenue liquors has it at something around $129 or so.

    • mongo says:

      both the 10 year olds available in the u.s (46% and 50%) are great, as is the 15 year old (which is my favorite of the lot). keep in mind that the 10 is quite different from the 15–more austere bourbon cask profile to the 15′s fruitier, sherry notes. i also really like the cask strength 11 year old madeira cask (not a finish). i tried the cream sherry last night, and it’s pretty good too. these latter two are difficult to find below the mid-$80s.

      however, if you’re a peat-head, you may find springbank not to your taste, so try before buying (or buy the longrow cv).

  8. Andre Girard says:

    The 15 YO was my favorite Springbank so far. I enjoyed the rich and fruity flavours it delivers and the dark chocolate finale. The 18YO is sold around 130$ in Canada and i think 160$ is a bit over priced for a 18YO expression. But as the 18YO is the oldest distillery bottling of Springbank, i think it also worth to pay a little more for a distillery who delivered quite good stuff in the past.

  9. mongo says:

    john, no smoke on the finish in this one?

    like others, i will wait in hope of the price dipping below $100 before giving this a try.

  10. nicolas vaughn says:

    yeah I don’t know what is going on with the pricing especially with the springbank 18. I had it at Salt Bar in London and it was 6 pounds! The retail stores were selling it around 50-60 pounds! You are better off ordering it over seas and paying the shipping because you are still spending less and you don’t have to pay VAT! I don’t know what is going on with distributors/importers but those costs sure escalate by the time that whisky hits our shores!!

  11. MrTH says:

    The importer is Preiss. Their positioning of Springbank has more than once been called Preiss gouging.

  12. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    every time, well most every time I see your $ prices I wonder what my Euros would by me stateside.

    Preiss here

    http://www.preissimports.com/productsdetail.aspx?SPRINGBANK%2018%20YEAR%20OLD

    states that they have only 1800 bottles for the USA.

    “Availability is extremely limited, only 1,800 bottles for the USA.”

    And that seem to be your key words, extremely and limited.

    If you travel I think you could find it at one airport or the other for less money.

    Greetings
    kallaskander

  13. Peter Currie says:

    Mr TH, you really love that Preiss Gouging quip, eh?

    To answer your questions on pricing, Springbank Distillers Ltd sell our whiskies at the same price to all customers. It’s the (very high) cost of malting, distilling and bottling all our whisky at the distillery in Campbeltown, plus a bit to pay wages and maintain the buildings.
    We do offer a “bulk discount” on standard products like the CV and 10 year old that applies less to the 15 year old and does not apply to limited products like to 18 year old.
    Any price difference between US retailers and the UK is due to the 3-tier system in the US. The extra margin taken by the importer, wholesaler and retailer soon built up. In most other countries there is 1 less margin and in the UK, where most retailers buy directly from us there are 2 less margins.
    I don’t think there is any of the companies we work with are gouging on price, although everyone may take a little extra due to the limited amount of 18 year old they will get. I hope that this at least explains the pricing, even if it doesn’t make the money any easier to find.

    cheers

    Peter Currie
    Sales and Marketing Manager
    Springbank Distillers Ltd

    • Matt L says:

      The 3-tier system tends to be quite protectionist, as well. For years, the Republic of Texas really did feel like another country, at least if you were trying to buy directly from a winery, distillery or brewery in another state. It was occasionally easier to import something from overseas than across state lines. Of course, that’s still the only way to get my Hoyo de Monterey Epicures….

    • Alex Cranstoun says:

      Hi Peter,

      Thanks for the industry reality check. In the end, I think most really like your
      products and frustration overall lies with the premiumisation trend evident with so
      many brands. The Longrow CV and Springbank 10 are favorites and good values for their quality to me. Please keep limited bottlings coming to the US.

      Alex

  14. Peter Currie says:

    oh, and for info at the moment we don’t sell any whisky in duty free.

    • B.J. Reed says:

      Thanks for the explanation Peter – Its nice to get a clear, concise answer – I picked up the 15 YO in the UK before it was available from Preiss – I have found that Springbank because of some of the problems in the late 90s with inventory became even more of a coveted whisky because of concerns over supply – It has always been a favorite of serious malt drinkers because of its unique taste profile and its relatively limited supplies – at least in the States – so there are a combination of things going on here regarding final retail price.

  15. Andre Girard says:

    We have same kind of problem here in Canada. For exemple, SAQ in Quebec province sell an Highland Park 25Yo bottle for 265$ and next province (about 2 and a half hours car drive) the same f***ing bottle is sold 160$ !!! That’s the same bottle, coming from the same distillery… Some peoples go to jail for less than that !

  16. Sjoerd de Haan says:

    Here in NL we had a similar problem with an importer wanting a rather large margin. In the end it was cheaper to buy the bottle at the distllery and have it shipped to NL with some 10 pounds of shipping added than buying it locally.

    Nowadays the importer is a bit more generous in its pricing, which means prices have dropped considerably and are now very good.

    About the whisky: What I find fascinating is how completely different it is from the limited 18 year old of about 1.5 years ago (the one in the purple box). The new one is a bit more fierce and has a bit more going on than the older one. Both are great though, depending on in what mood you are.

  17. Andre Girard says:

    Longrow 7yo Gaja Barolo finish is one of the wierdest i’ve ever tried (lol!).. I would prefer the Longrow sherry cask from 92

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