Campbeltown. The very name of the region breeds confusion, history, sadness, happiness, and even a little bit of horniness for various whisky fans.
A lot of us have only had a handful of drams from there. When asked to explain an Islay, we can. When asked to explain a Speyside, we can. But a Campbeltown? Better ask us about Indian and Japanese whisky, because we can explain those a little easier in more general terms.
I personally have always been fascinated by the region. As such, I’ve tried to review as many as I can get my hands on. Most of them come from Springbank owned or invested in distilleries.
So when I noticed that I had two samples from Hazelburn sitting on the shelf, it seemed silly to let them rest there any longer.
Hazelburn itself isn’t a separate distillery. They are a whisky made by Springbank. Triple distilled and unpeated, this is the opposite to Longrow, and the baby to Springbank in the lineup.
The Hazelburn 10 I’m reviewing today is made only from air-dried malt. This differs it from the current Hazelburn 12, which I guess uses other methods to dry their malt.
The Hazelburn 2002 – 8 Sauternes Finish was aged for 5 years in ex-Bourbon casks, and then aged again for 3 years in ex-Sauternes casks. Sauternes is a sweet dessert wine made with a fungus in the grapes called noble rot (the scientific name I’ll butcher).
So, triple distilled and made by Springbank. What’s not to love? Let’s see how these taste, shall we?
Price: Not currently available at the LCBO
Colour: 5Y 9/6
Nose: Peaches, eggnog, smoke, anise, seaweed, rosemary, peanut oil
So at first this has what I’m used to in Campbeltown: Stone fruits, salt, some herbal notes.
Then there’s this eggy note, smoke (even though there’s no smoke in making it, so what am I on), and peanut notes. Really odd mixture. I like them separate, but.. together? Maybe my egg allergy is throwing me off.
Taste: Lemon, hazelnut, black pepper, cookie dough
Nice, light flavour. Quite crisp. Still getting some elements of smoke, even though there’s no smoke. Guessing it’s just psychosomatic. It’s a light flavour on this one.
Definitely has the triple distilled characteristic mouthfeel too.
Finish: Oregano, peanut oil, peach syrup, wood, brown sugar, smoke
And still smoke. What is wrong with me on this one? I’ll have to revisit it at another time to double check. May just be something from the barrels.
Finish is probably the best part. Has some of the really good parts of the nose without the off putting or random parts.
Conclusion: Certainly a unique dram this time around. I kept getting smoke from it, which bothers me enough to want to try it again. May just be an odd batch or the neighbours were BBQing.
None the less, this is nice to sip on. Nothing too out there, but has some unique elements to it. The finish is what shines overall. Think I like the 12 better. Perhaps I’m not a fan of the air they use to dry the malt (that’s a thing, right?)
Hazelburn 2002 – 8 Sauternes Finish
Price: Not currently available at the LCBO
No. of bottle: 9,180
Bottled: Feb 2011
Colour: 7.5 YR 4/8
Nose: Strawberry jam, pear, bread dough, apple syrup, vanilla doughnut, blueberry
Well this is certainly different. Big notes of fresh sandwiches and fruity elements. Lots of complex yeast notes, and the wine has sunk in and worked with the ex-bourbon vanillas to sate my sweettooth.
And let me tell you, as someone who loves his sweets, that’s no easy feat.
Taste: Simple syrup, blueberry, ginger, cranberry, walnut
Less complex on the taste. Goes from “that baked good” to “those parts of the baked good”.
Wait, maybe you don’t bake. Well… you should try, I believe in you. None the less, baking involves mixing the right amount of different parts to make something greater than the sum. This just has those parts.
Love the nut/wood elements though. Really add something.
Finish: Ginger, peanut, pepper, currant, coconut, oatmeal cookie dough, malt
And the finish slowly rotates out some of the fruit, giving more of a earthy, sweet flavour, and lots of malt. It’s a young malt, however doesn’t show it in the finish.
Conclusion: This is how to do young malts well. Finishes, high Abv., good amount of time per cask, and overall does something different than the standard malts.
Quite tasty, in the end. Loved the different layers. Wish the taste was a bit more flavourful, however you can’t always get what you want. Sometimes you just gotta get what you need. And this dram is a welcome addition to the lineup.
Now where can I get some CV?
Scotch reviews #515-516, Campbeltown reviews #26-27, Whisky Network reviews #835-836