A couple of interesting Hazelburn releases today, sadly only available on auction.
Hazelburn 9yo Barolo cask
Price: £100.00 (Auction)
This 9yo Hazelburn spent 6 years in first fill bourbon barrels before being transferred to refill Barolo casks for a finishing period of 3 years. Released in 2016, 10,800 bottles were made available.
It begins with mushy apples, menthol, butter, cut grass and shortbread biscuits. It's fairly musty, lots of dry soil and moss. It feels quite restrained, like there's lots of aromas hiding, waiting for their time to appear. Giving it time and air, the drams starts to reveal some milk chocolate, engine oil, dry wood and salted caramel.
Punchy alcohol up front, a mixture of freshly cracked black and white pepper takes over the mouth, with a little creamy vanilla custard coming towards the later parts of the palate. There's a floral, tropical candy-like note right at the beginning of the palate, but then the alcohol takes over. The finish is dry, with strong oak and tannins. The mouthfeel is nice, not super exciting but not thin or watery at all.
Nose (with water)
The reduced nose brings honey, pineapple syrup, pear, pebbles and a hint of lemongrass. It feels much more open now, there's more of the mint, apple and grassy notes that we got before too.
Palate (with water)
The reduction removes a lot of the up-front pepperiness we experienced before, but moves to the dram towards a dry, bitter oak flavour on the finish. We're getting a fair bit more salt now, like salted caramel drizzled on overcooked orchard fruits. The mouthfeel and finish remain relatively consistent from pre-dilution.
Admittedly not our favourite expression of Hazelburn, this felt a little too restrained on the nose and too alcohol forward on the palate for us. Saying that, it's not a bad whisky at all. Water helps to bring a little more balance to the whisky, but not enough for us. The Barolo finish gives an interesting dimension to the whisky, but maybe a little longer in bourbon before the finishing period would smooth out the rougher edges. We're going with 7/10 for this one.
Hazelburn 10yo Warehouse 15, Rotation 131
This 10yo cage bottle was distilled 10th September 2010 and bottled 21st April 2021 having spent its entire life in a refill bourbon hogshead.
The nose opens with wafts of citrus fruits, lemons, limes, a little bitter grapefruit juice too. For such a pale whisky and a young refill barrel, the dram has an impressive amount of vanilla sugar and oak backing up those citrus aromas. We're also getting a nice mellow salinity, maritime influence coming through, giving the dram another dimension of complexity. We're getting a little bit of younger spirit coming through but overall the whisky has a nicely balanced, mellow and pleasant nose.
It's incredibly lemon-y, like chewing on a piece of the lemon peel with a little too much pith still attached. That bitterness also manifests itself as grapefruit and a little dried leather too. There's a kick from the alcohol, it's tingly, not pepper or chili spice, but it reminds us of the bubbles from a freshly poured flute of Champagne. Speaking of Champagne, we're finding a yeasty note here too... we feel this would be a favourite whisky of sparkling wine drinkers. The mouthfeel is good, there's enough viscosity there to coat the palate, but it's not overly oily or textured. The finish lasts a while, with more of those bitter grapefruit and oak flavours coming through.
Nose (with water)
We're finding the same levels of citrus as before, but with a heightened vanilla sweetness counterbalanced with an earthiness we didn't detect before. It's one of those noses that you keep coming back to, not overly pronounced but very pleasant.
Palate (with water)
An earthier palate now, wet soil, sea water, some herbal rosemary and sage. There's some more of that grapefruit appearing, alongside hints of icing sugar as the whisky sits on your tongue. That sparkling wine character has been lost a bit, overtaken by more earth and wood. We'd recommend it without the addition of water.
A very interesting Hazelburn with an impressive cask influence that reminds us of a fine Champagne, only amped up to 11. The alcohol is a little punchy, but overall the dram feels in good balance. We've had a fair few cage bottles now and we're rarely disappointed.. it feels like we're always recommending them but they represent great quality whisky in its most natural form at a very good price (if you can get your hands on one!).
- 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.