After a few years that Springbank Distillery was quiet on their Hazelburn (Springbank unpeated triple distillation) front, in the last year we’ve been treated with two special/limited editions of Hazelburn in different casks. First came the Hazelburn 9 Year Old that was finished for a few years in Barolo wine casks, which was real good whisky. And now we have a 13 Year Old Hazelburn that was aged in a mix of first fill and refill Oloroso casks. Now, first fill Oloroso casks can be very dominating and with the delicate nature of Hazelburn spirit and with extra four years (over the Barolo expression), it was interesting to see if Springbank has managed to get the balance right here and how much of the Hazelburn nature has been preserved here.
Nose: My first taste of the Hazelburn was after tasting the Kilkerran 8 (review to follow later this week) and it felt too mellow and watery, but the second time around was much better, tasting it at the beginning of the evening. Sweet Oloroso sherry impact, raisins, dried fruit, milk chocolate and cocoa, then a generous dash of Campbeltown funk (unpeated or not you can’t avoid it) with petrol, car exhaust fumes and farm greenery. After it breathed in the glass, there were extra berries and it becomes more sherried and less Campbeltown-y. Overall it felt a tad thin behind the sherry (‘thanks’ to the Hazelburn triple distillate).
Palate: Oh, spicy with serious funk, cinnamon and nutmeg, oranges peels, sweet dried fruit and then sweet funk, car exhaust fumes, polished metal, old rubber and leather, just a bit of peat, greenery and green spices.
Finish: Medium length with lingering sweet dried fruit and somewhat sour and funky greenery.
Thoughts: There’s a nice play here between the gentle funk of the Hazelburn spirit and a relatively mellow impact of the Oloroso casks despite the extra four years, so well done Springbank on managing it right.
Side note: If you wonder how does is it compares to the 9 Year Old Barolo cask (and I was asked about it), the Barolo was more intense and a bit more polished despite the younger age, but this one has more Campbeltown and Hazelburn character to it, so it boils down to your own personal preference.