Settle down, settle down…I ‘m only kidding. While this may seem like a sound logical assumption, it’s actually quite a stretch.
Hazelburn is one of the three streams flowing from the stills at Springbank, Campbelton’s most recognized distillery. Springbank, as many of you are likely aware, is famous for producing the old school, malt-heavy and mildly-peaty namesake Springbank line, as well as the more heavily-peated Longrow, and finally the virtually (or possibly even completely) peat-free and triple-distilled Hazelburn. Yes…triple distilled. Much like you’ll often find in the Lowland malts or Irish whiskies. Triple distillation generally maketh for a lighter, cleaner spirit, but you’d be mistaken if approaching this one as comparable to an Auchentoshan, Rosebank or Jameson’s. There is definitely some heft here.
Hazelburn first ran off the stills in 1997, appearing on store shelves, albeit in limited quantity (I read up on this a little while back, but can’t quite recall the number…think it was 6,000 bottles), as an eight year old expression in 2005. And while that eight year old was a decent drop, we’re now starting to see what Hazelburn is capable of with a little bit of free rein to grow up and stretch its gangly limbs. Personally I’m a little bit partial to Springbank’s two beefier older brothers, but I can’t help but smile in recognition of a distillery at the height of its craft. Springbank is doing it all…doing it traditionally…and doing it well. From light to heavy, all of their malts are imbued with a sense of identity and quality. Love it.
I hate to get ahead of myself here, but both the Springbank and Longrow expressions are dynamite at 18 years. I’ll be waiting for Hazelburn to come of age too.
Nose: Pleasant…very pleasant. Lightly creamy and grassy. A little bit of lemon pepper. A little ginger and some licorice. A squeeze of sweet mandarin and tangerine. Some dried fruits, nuts and woody notes (definitely sherry casking of some sort). Still seems to be just the vaguest hint of smoke irrespective of the ‘unpeated’ label that is levied on this one (maybe just cask charring residuals?). Really good already, but so much potential for additional ageing.
Palate: Pepper and malty cereal notes. Grass and grains. Orange marmalade on toast. The lightest spread of a very fatty milk chocolate. Toothpicks. For a ‘lighter’-styled whisky (yet still surprising in its heft), but still kinda old school, Lowland-ish whisky…I quite like this.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt