Springbank is a scotch from the lone distillery remaining in Campbeltown, a remote corner of Scotland. It isn't the most popular or most widely-known malt, but those who like the "Campbeltown style" are rabid fans (and I count myself part of this clan).
Campbeltown was Scotland's commercial distilling hub before the rise of Speyside. Given it's proximity to the western sea, Campbeltown gained much of its prominence during the steamship era (and owed much of its subsequent decline to the railway era). Further, since it was the last stop before the New World, Michael Jackson in Scotland and its Whiskies states that Campbeltown's decline "allegedly happened after the distillers there became known for rough whiskies supplied to American speakeasies during Prohibition."
"[F]rom a traveller's perspective, visiting the Campbeltown area is a small nightmare. One has to make a long trek to the Southern tip of the Kintyre peninsula on the Western coast of Scotland to reach Springbank - or the nearby Glen Scotia distillery. Except for the distilleries, there's not much happening in Campbeltown. And even for the people that want to 'get away from it all' for a few days, Springbank is a fairly poor destination. It's one of the few distilleries that isn't surrounded by the lush Scottish countryside - located in the middle of a busy town.
Many distilleries welcome visitors with open arms, but when some of the maniacs visited Springbank in 2005 they didn't seem very pleased to see us - or the other visitors for that matter. So, for me the best thing of the trip was the night I spent in the same hotel that Alfred Barnard stayed in when he visited the area over a century ago."
Whew! After that experience, you might want to skip past Springbank to something more common - don't. The Springbank 10 year old is a great introduction to the Campbeltown style - mildly briny with some iodine from the sea, slightly sweet, fruity and creamy at the start, and very pleasant throughout. While not as sherried or refined as the 15 year old, the 10 year old is a great everyday dram that deserves a taste if you have the opportunity to dip your toe into this unique distilling region.
Grade: B (a bit pricier than others in this range at $55, but understandable given the lack of economies of scale in Campbeltown - support them if you can)