Age: Distilled in 2003, bottled in 2017
More than any other distillery, Springbank has contributed to the revival of Campbeltown whisky and its enduring status as a distinct whisky region. Not only did owners J&A Mitchell re-open Glengyle distillery, they also produce no fewer than three styles of single malt in their celebrated Springbank distillery. Of these, unpeated Hazelburn leans towards the lighter, more gentle end of the spectrum. Moreover, Hazelburn is triple distilled – quite rare for a Scotch – resulting in a purer, smoother drink. That’s not to say Hazelburn is tame, it still packs plenty of coastal punch. This particular release has been matured exclusively in Oloroso sherry casks. And it shows: not only does this whisky have a beautifully dark hue, but those 13 years in European oak have turned this Hazelburn into a true sherry bomb. This expression was distilled in 2003 and limited to 12.000 bottles. Other sherried versions soon followed (2004 and 2007), as well as a 14 year old from 2008. All this indicates that these Oloroso bottlings have been a success story and may be on their way to becoming a (semi-)regular feature in Hazelburn’s line-up. I certainly don’t mind, this has fast become one of my favourite Hazelburn expressions!
Colour: Dark copper
Nose: Lush, juicy red fruit immediately bursts from the glass. Sweet aromas of raspberries and blood orange give way to milk chocolate praline. There are soft, warm spices as well, with cinnamon and raisins lending the semblance of a Christmas cake.
Palate: Quite oily, with a coastal quality that wasn’t present on the nose. Equally briny and fruity, the tide of strawberries and walnuts now rides upon a salty wave of toffee and nutmeg. Packed full of flavours, this is a deeply satisfying dram.
Finish: Woah lovely. Warm and lasting, slowly the fruits fizzle out, accompanied by a final burst of spice. The aftertaste is wonderfully oaky, with plenty of sherry influences. I feel like I’ve somehow swallowed a bodega. Great stuff!
Verdict: Although this Hazelburn is still a typically oily, coastal Campbeltown dram, it’s now wearing the cloak of a sherry bomb. I expect the overload of tannins may be off-putting to some, but to me this is a dark and satisfying dram that never fails to stimulate the senses. It’s perhaps a bit pricey for a 13 year old, but in terms of quality there can be no complaints. There’s a reason this Hazelburn expression keeps getting relaunched. I’ve already made sure to buy myself another bottle before the new version too runs out.
Value for money: 🤩🤩🤩