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Hazelburn 9 year old Barolo Cask Matured

Backstage at Whisky Rover, there are many secrets and also decaying, articles, reviews and concepts that need more work. Take this Hazelburn review, which has been coming longer than a Celtic defeat.

I purchased this 9-year-old Barolo cask matured release, well it ages ago now I recall and tasted it shortly afterwards before putting it aside. Part of the reason was that the whisky just didn’t sit well with me from the outset. I just couldn’t delve into it and thoroughly engage or identify that point where I felt satisfied that I had done the whisky justice. Then over the coming months, I continued to return to the bottle.

Hazelburn of course isn’t a distillery but a style of whisky produced at arguably Scotland’s – if not the world’s – greatest distillery in the form of Springbank. As with any bottling or theme from this cultured producer, there is an inspiration to the name. For Hazelburn, there was once a distillery in Campbeltown that did feature the title and it was open for around 100 years. Established in 1825, shortly after the introduction of the Excise Act, the distillery was in the hotbed of the Campbeltown region before the bad times stuck and the town went into decline.

Towards the end of its lifetime, the distillery ended up in the hands of Mitchell & Co, who remain owners of Springbank to this day. Unfortunately for Hazelburn the end was in sight and the distillery closed in 1926. To commemorate its existence, around 10% of Springbank’s annual output is distilled in the Hazelburn style i.e. triple distilled and unpeated. By all accounts, the original distillery was damn good at producing the more Irish style of spirit that is only consistently produced at Auchentoshan nowadays.

 

It’s another string to the formidable Springbank arsenal and a light and engaging style of whisky that lends itself well to unusual types of casks. This particular release was distilled in 2009, before being bottled in 2016 with a total outturn of 10,800 bottles. Initially, for its first 6 years, it spent this time in ex-bourbon casks, before a final 3 years in refill Barolo wine casks, which previously had contained Springbank whisky. The end result is a whisky bottled at 57.9% strength and would have cost around £60 when I purchased it.

Colour: a light honey
Nose: punchy yet sweet at cask strength. A malty aspect but its the apricots and lemon sponge that dominate. A floral aspect followed by bananas and a touch of white wine vinegar. Golden syrup enforces the sweetness, juicy fruit chewing gum with a creamy vanilla toffee and lychees.
Taste: a refined aspect reinforces the triple distillation of the spirit. A subtle vanilla, more lemon sponge followed by icing sugar and marzipan. A little butter, tinned pineapples, white chocolate and green apples.

Conclusions

This does benefit from a drop of water. Yes, it occupies the sweet end of the whisky spectrum; a very fruity whisky laced in sugars, which won’t be to everyone’s liking. I must admit whilst I’ll finish off the bottle eventually, its not one I will fall in love with.

CategoriesSingle Malt
  1. Avatar
    Juju says:

    Late to the party. I had this last night and while it didn’t blow me away, it was a nice look at the potential (and pitfalls) for double maturation vis-a-vis finishing…thanks for the review.

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Hi Juju, you’ve just reminded me I have this still in the house. Perhaps I should return to it and see if things have calmed down? Glad you enjoyed the piece. Thanks.

  2. Avatar
    Welsh Toro says:

    I enjoyed this one. It’s a total fruit bomb. A combination of fruit but not fruit salad. It needs water, as you say, not too much and and an open mind. What is the Barolo bringing to the table and how can we tell? Can we tell the difference between an Amontillado, Oloroso and, these days, Palo Cortado cask when all is said and done? Having recently visited Andalucia and some venerable, unnamed, bodegas in Montilla. I have it from the horses mouth that one of them rents their 3 year ex-oloroso casks to a large company with a global reach and interest in a blackcurrant product. That’s what it is now – a virgin barrel rinsed out with young oloroso. That’s our ‘Sherried’ whisky – ‘Oloroso’ aged in a nothing barrel. Good cask selection matters, of course, but are we dumbing down? I’ve gone completely off piste, indulge me. Barolo? Late to the table yet again. Cheers Jason. WT

    1. Jason
      Jason says:

      Hi WT, I did go back to this one and it just wasn’t there for me. Maybe I should give it another go? The cask thing, sherry casks, it’s not the same nowadays and I do wonder if the SWA should look again at some of the practises being adopted as clearly the goalposts have shifted. We’re paying more for less nowadays as well. Very disappointing or that’s how I feel about it. Cheers, Jason.

      1. Avatar
        Welsh Toro says:

        Thanks Jason. I was a little vague about the company involved in the blackcurrant interest (ribena). I refer to Suntory. I find the whole business of sherry maturation, wine finishes etc. pretty irritating as you can probably tell. I don’t think I have ever received a satisfactory answer from any company representative when I ask a question like “what sherry was in the barrel and how long was it in it.” I think you are right and that the SWA should look again at some of these practises because it’s very loose. I drink sherry and a three year old oloroso is nothing and what it’s doing to a ‘sherry’ barrel is next to nothing. Maybe Suntory source other barrels and maybe other distilleries get better barrels. Maybe. As for the Hazelburn, well we can’t like everything from the great distillery and I can remember a couple of duff ones as too. Cheers. WT

        1. Jeremy
          Jeremy says:

          I have a suspicion details on sherry might start becoming talked about more in future. Recently a few times I’ve ended up in tasting classes comparing sherry and sherried whiskies together. It really opens a whole new world of understanding of the whisky, and what was just ‘sherried whisky’ you can start placing in the sherry world. It can then help you understand what you like better – although given the limited info from most distilleries it might not be too easy to go to the type you like best.

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