I sometimes feel like Hazelburn is the last child in a family of really smart kids.
Look, you got Springbank. A tough, unique, amazing whisky. Easy oldest kid, gets straight As, is popular without being a dick about it.
Then you have Longrow: Peated, doesn’t really have to try, still does, gets these cool red wine casks each year, is doing some great Chardonnay casks, and generally getting good marks.
Then there’s Hazelburn. I mean, it’s not peated, it’s not super as unique, there’s less of them. Granted it’s triple-distilled, and outside Ireland, you don’t see that much. But that’s about it. There’s a yearly Sherry cask that pops up, but… I mean, that’s sherry. Everything does sherry.
It’s like doing well in local Geography. No one does poorly in it. Hazelburn has an A in Geography and knows who the local secondary hero is and no one gives a shit.
Well, maybe that’s not fair. So let’s see how three of them taste, shall we?
Hazelburn 10 2007 Springbank Society
Thanks to /u/xile_ for this sample.
Price: £ 200
Cask type: Refill Sauternes Hogshead
Number of bottles: 846
Colour: 2.5Y 5/8
Nose: Swedish berries, chocolate caramel, peaches, apples
Sweet, almost too sweet, but I’m a huge fan of sugar and writing this after finding a local cookie place and eating more sugar than I should have at my age.
Water brings out more fruit and caramel. Almost sad with water.
Taste: Lemoncello, candy apple, pine sap, cinnamon, red licorice, butter
Balance here on the taste. More acidity, still tons of sweets, still some fruit, and here’s some spice, butter, and even a woody aspect.
That said it’s all a bit light on the flavour.
Finish: Enough ginger to overwhelm Ireland, lemongrass, parsnip, dry pear, dirt, mushroom
Really dirty finish. Earth, more earth, sweet with earth, and too dirty to clean my Afro, if I still had hair.
Conclusion: Candy forward nose with lemon candy and simultaneously being dirty as hell. This was mislabeled and it’s a Longrow and that’s cool. Or maybe I’m a dick to Hazelburn.
This is an easy pickup. Or at least if I had room in my bag it would have been, since I missed it like a fool. The finish is way too much earth and heat, the nose is tons of sweets, it’s flawed and fun to drink and proof that there’s more going on with Hazelburn. Or someone wrote the wrong distillery on the barrel.
Hazelburn 9 2010 Duty Paid Sample
Price: £ 54
Cask Type: First Fill Bourbon Barrel
Cask type: Fresh Bourbon Barrel
Cask Number: Rotation 108
Colour: 7.5Y 9/4
Nose: Butter, dry pear, dried papaya, mango
Very fruity with water. Without I’m getting butter and dry pear and little else. Takes to water well and gets tropical. Bit odd having something this strong and then not getting much at first.
Taste: Green apple, heather/honey, anise, butter, grass, lime
Tart, floral/sweet, and spice. If the nose makes you wonder if the label was off or maybe I’m off or the whole world is off.
Suffice to say no, my rampant self-hatred is again incorrect. It’s a strong, grass/honey forward tart dram.
Finish: Caramel, dry pear, char/cocoa, cinnamon, tons of cereal, green banana
Lots of cereal and raw notes. It’s dry, stone fruit, and it’s a sweeter Chardonnay with lots of cereal notes. That’s all.
Conclusion: Dry, apple, buttery. I’ve said it before, but it’s a Chardonnay dram. If that doesn’t scratch any itches for you, I can see why. I married someone who isn’t a Chardonnay fan (though does love other wines).
This loves water. It’s young. There’s not a lot of complexity, but where it does show up you have some interesting spice elements or honey.
Basically this reminds me of the aspects I like in Balvenie. Take that as you will.
Hazelburn 14 2004 Oloroso
Thanks to /u/EvilAFI for the dram.
Price: € 110
Cask type: Oloroso Sherry Casks
Number of bottles: 9,000
Colour: 5YR 6/12
Nose: Strawberry, sunflowers, pear, croissant, maple doughnut
I’m seeing sweet as the main aspect of these Hazelburn drams. This at least starts with some somewhat less sweet, seed note, and some more of that butter. It’s rough at times here. Water makes it super sweet but more complex but still rough and I’m having issues and we’re just at the nose.
Taste: Caramel, sulfur, almond, white chocolate, strawberry syrup
Caramel, nice. Sulfur… as anyone who has driven past Cornwall in the past, not great. Almond, good. White chocolate… fun, but kinda really sweet. Strawberry syrup? Rough and super strong.
It’s a bipolar dram.
Finish: Cereal, almond milk, golden syrup, mineral, almond, fake maple
I know out there, at a place, a popular one, called Milk Bar where they make cereal milk as a main ingredient. The idea being is it tastes like the milk after eating cereal.
This is that, but if I tried to do it at home and didn’t have a sweet cereal but did have some honey bunches of oats. There’s parts that work, parts that don’t.
Conclusion: Too many rough edges at the end of the day. Sweet at times, rough at others, too sweet sometimes, aspects of sherry and a strong maple note that feels like part of the tree fell on your foot.
I can see what they were trying. This is, again, unique. I didn’t love it, but I’m more of a PX fan. I hope in the future they can get a nicer Oloroso cask.
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