I was never a step child. Yeah, I know, look at me bragging about my parents being able to find happiness and have a balanced, healthy relationship that was a positive impact on their lives.
So when I call Hazelburn the red-headed step child of the Springbank family, I mean only as much as it’s a joke. In reality I hope that all of the step-children, regardless of hair colour or views of worth as human being based on racial background affects them, are being treated well. It can’t be easy.
But Hazelburn doesn’t get the fanfare of Springbank’s amazing lineage, or Longrow with their big peat and wine casks. It’s triple distilled, no peat, and does things differently.
So I was very excited to see a bottle of Hazelburn 13 2004 come onto the market. An ex-Oloroso aged whisky from them. How would it taste? How have they balanced it with vatting? Where are my pants?
All this and probably less! Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Distilled: October 2004
Bottled: April 2018
Outrun: 9,000 bottles
Cask Type: Oloroso cask
Colour: 10YR 6/10
Nose: Hazelnut, raspberry, Demerara sugar, cinnamon/crackers, mango
Nutty, fruit forward, more nuttiness. The Oloroso cask is quite strong here, with some of the cereal/crackers and brown sugar from the malt is coming through.
Mostly fruit though. Very fruit heavy.
Taste: Hazelnut, clove, brown sugar, metallic, raw ginger, plums
Watery mouthfeel. That’s the main thing here, and I’m not super happy about it. It’s drawing me away.
The triple distillation is there with some of the metallic flavour, which I personally enjoy in triple distilled drams. It continues with that spice and brown sugar.
Finish: Brown sugar, cinnamon bread, corn, golden syrup, lemon
It wakes up on the finish. We’re starting to get the balance of malt, almost closer to a bourbon profile at the end. There’s some spice, some acidity.
Conclusion: I get the feeling that there’s older whisky in here that they tried to save with younger, and ended up with a lesser product, sadly. Like it’s cask strength, it’s many casks, it has aspects that seem to hit well above thirteen years.
And then there are aspects that are young. Golden syrup, corn, and ginger all have a spirit-forward aspect.
So my assumption is this: They had this really interesting whisky that went too low. So they added some younger whisky that hadn’t quite hit its stride to bring it up, but not take over too much. That works on the surface, but dig a bit deeper and you find it.
Scotch review #1094, Campbeltown review #54, Whisky reviews #1700