Hazelburn 15yo Online Tasting Week 2021 & Hazelburn 12yo Rotation 98 (Cage bottle)


After trawling our sample collection, we stumbled across a festival Hazelburn from last year, alongside a 12 year old cage bottle.

Hazelburn 15yo Online Tasting Week 2021

Region: Campbeltown

ABV: 54.9%

Price: £85.00

This release was matured for 15 years in fresh Oloroso Sherry casks. 1,160 bottles were released for the 2021 tasting week.

Nose

It reminds us of nosing an empty oloroso butt, there's an oaky, nutty, slightly sweet, yet slightly dry aroma that fills your nostrils. There's cherries stewed down into a compote, salted caramel, rich treacle and molasses. Air brings handfuls of raisins, blackberries, musty earth and leather. Heavy sherry influence but manages to avoid the sulphur or spice.

Palate

Milk chocolate, raisins, sultanas, cherry bakewell, light wood spice with really good alcohol integration. The mouthfeel is silky and creamy, and the finish lasts a fair while with more of the chocolate, cherry and raisins coming through. Air brings out lighter red fruits - strawberries, raspberries and a little cranberry. It's sweet without being sickly, the richness counterbalancing the sugar to make it very drinkable.

Nose (with water)

Reduction lightens the nose, and we've lost some of those deeper, richer aromas which have been replaced by those lighter red fruits and berries. We're also finding honey and a very light caramel coming through too.

Palate (with water)

We're still finding those chocolate and raisin flavours, in fact it's not too different from pre-dilution. There's a slightly woodier finish with some orange zest and a little bit of oak spice, but water hasn't changed the whisky too much.

Conclusion

A very impressive Hazelburn which takes the best bits of oloroso cask maturation without any of the downsides. The nose is deep without being overwhelming, the alcohol is well integrated and the palate is silky with those classic sherry notes coming through. This is one that people new to whisky as well as seasoned whisky drinkers will enjoy. Is it the most complex dram out there? no, but is it delicious and do we wish we had a case? Yes.

Score: 8/10


Hazelburn 12yo Rotation 98 (Cage bottle)

Region: Campbeltown

ABV: 58.5%

Price: £60.00

This 12yo cage bottle was drawn from a first fill bourbon cask.

Nose

Marzipan, toffee, quite nutty with walnuts appearing upfront too. There's a lovely bourbon cask sweetness that's backed up by a fair kick of peppery alcohol, musty warehouse aromas and damp oak. Air brings out some lighter tropical fruits, tinned pineapple, mango chutney and under ripe papaya. There's also some fresh banana appearing after a while.

Palate

Honey roasted cashews, initially starts off quite oaky and nutty, but fast becomes sweeter with golden syrup, icing sugar and foam banana sweets. The mouthfeel is nice, there's some texture here, and we're finding the finish has a good length, although quite a lot of white pepper and alcohol coming through that pushes it slightly off balance. Air reveals a little leather, shaved oak and cornflakes that've spent a while in the oven.

Nose (with water)

Dilution really starts to accentuate those tropical fruits, and starts to hide some of the peppery alcohol. There's a light mustiness appearing now, but it works nicely with the overall sweetness and freshness of the dram.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate feels a little thinner texture-wise, but we're getting fresh pineapple, vanilla pods moving into drier, dusty oak barrels. As much as the alcohol bite is tamed by the water, we think the dram is worse off and would recommend avoiding reduction.

Conclusion

It's hard not to recommend these duty paid samples, especially at the RRP. This is obviously great quality whisky, but is perhaps a little simple and lacking in some of the complexity we come to expect from Springbank. It's slightly too hot and fiery, but we'd happily take another dram. We'll go for 7.5/10 for this particular bottle.

Score: 7.5/10

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  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

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