In case someone missed it, a global pandemic is forcing the world to cancel most public events and the whisky industry is no exception, so at the end of May of course the Feis Ile and Campbeltown Open Days were cancelled. Some distilleries bottled their special editions anyway, and sold them on the internet – Springbank did the same, linking the sale of the bottles to some online events held a few weeks ago. We happily dived into it, and took home a couple of bottles and several samples. In the past few days we opened the oldest Hazelburn we’ve ever had, a 18-year-old aged exclusively in ex-Bourbon first-fill casks. Hazelburn is the triple-distilled, unpeated version of Springbank’s spirit, and it’s definitely the least considered in the portfolio: better for us, it comes cheaper!
N: what a strange profile, what a unique profile! Very interesting, with notes of lime tree honey, vetiver, but also a layer of limestone (very evident!) and wax. A lovely smell of… dry cleaning is back, and a coastal, brackish, seawater component tends to grow on the side. Cedar and pineapple, to introduce the more sugary part, with glazed apple tartlets and rice puddings. A hint of saffron, completing an incredible complexity. Very elegant.
P: incredible, explosive and oily. It starts on fruit, let’s say apple and some tropical fruit, but then all hell breaks loose… It comes to mind… cod-liver oil (which sounds really bad, we know), to testify to a growing, salty and fishy marinity. Salty lemon; or sparkling lemon (candies, if you had a childhood you know what they are). There is also a mentholated, herbaceous component; or is it camphor…?
F: It starts on the most austere part, between sea, wax, whitewash and a touch of ashes, and then leaves room for notes of acidulous tropical fruit, never sweet. Nutmeg. The finish is almost reminiscent of Jamaican rum.
We already wrote it above: Hazelburn is the least considered brand among those coming out of Springbank’s stills and warehouses, perhaps because it is identified with a lighter and more “normal” profile, compared to Longrow and Springbank. And that’s a big mistake: the oiliness, the ‘fattiness’ typical of the house style are all there, as well as the coastal, savoury and deeply mineral notes: what’s more, there is always a very exuberant fruity dimension, and this eighteen-year-old is no exception. The first Hazelburn of age in our career gains a convinced 91/100. We should have bought a lot more bottles of it. Underdog.
Recommended soundtrack: Idles – Mercedes Marxist.