Hazelburn 8 year old and Hazelburn 10 year old Single Malts


Hazelburn tends to be the ugly duckling of the Springbank family. Triple distilled and unpeated it just doesn't ever garner the same attention as it's Longrow and of course Springbank siblings. Which is a shame because it's a fine and interesting whisky in it's own right. Sadly however, like anything Springbank related it can be exceptionally difficult even to get your hands on, and don't even think about the limited editions.

Hazelburn is one of Campbeltown's many lost distilleries. Originally licensed back in 1825 and owned by brothers Matthew and Daniel Greenlees in partnership with Archie Colvill it was one of the oldest and largest distilleries in Campbeltown, operating illicitly well before it's license was granted.

By 1885, when Alfred Barnard visited the distillery, it had an operational capacity of 250,000 gallons per year, or for the metric freaks out there, approximately 1,135,000 litres. Pretty tidy. On his visit Barnard found that Hazelburn had produced 192,000 gallons of malt spirit using a 7,000 gallon wash still and two 1,800 gallon spirit stills.

Sadly by 1920 fortunes had changed in the wake of the sales crisis of the time and the distillery was sold to Mackie & Co. who subsequently closed it's doors in 1921. Mackie & Co. became White Horse Distillers in 1924 and in 1925 the distillery fell silent although the site and it's extensive warehousing was used to mature other brands spirits onsite for decades after.

Springbank starting distilling their take on Hazelburn in 1997. It is triple distilled and unpeated making it a similar style to some of the Scottish lowland distilleries such as Auchentoshan, or indeed even a bit like the Irish predominant style of distillation. The first release came out in 2005. This release came out as a set of three bottles with different labels showing artwork from artist Ian Gray of the Springbank distillery. Only 1700 bottles of each label were available. The whisky was full matured in sherry casks and like everything Springbank does as a core release was 46% abv, natural colour and non-chill filtered. Thanks to Justine of @kaskwhisky for the generous sample.

I came to own a later edition of the 8 year rather fortunately. My friend Paddy and I have a little holiday arrangement going where we scout out whisky shops in the hope of some interesting, undiscovered rarities or good value propositions. Paddy was in Tenerife and my phone pinged with a barrage of photos....'Anything good here?' 'Yes! Buy it all!' was my reply. Alas luggage weight restrictions put an end to that notion. The upshot was Paddy bought himself a Springbank CV and I got a Hazelburn 8. Both discontinued bottles and both cost a paltry €33 each. Amazing! It pays to go whisky hunting folks no matter where you are. This particular release is a little different in that the cask makeup is 60% bourbon and 40% sherry.

Finally we have a fairly recent bottling of the now core 10 year old Hazelburn. This bottle is from late 2021 and had a full maturation in ex-bourbon casks. It cost £47 from Fairley's Wines in Coleraine.

Hazelburn 8 year old 1st Release 46% abv

Nose: A lovely rich and decadent sweetness to this. Raisins, fudge, caramelised banana, vanilla cream and tinned pineapple rings. Pencil shavings, leather, chocolate, hazelnuts and some candle wax.

Palate: This follows the nose quite well - sherried sweetness and dark fruit along with a dry nuttiness, walnuts and hazelnuts. Some orange zest and vanilla with a nice pepper and cinnamon warmth along with toasted oak and some cocoa too.

Finish: A medium finish with nutty sherry notes, cocoa and citrus zest.

Score: 7 out of 10

Hazelburn 8 year old (bottle code 11/438) 46% abv

Nose: A lot of tropical fruit here - pineapple, papaya, mango and banana. Caramel sauce and milk chocolate. Some orange peel and vanilla ice cream. Toasted almond and a very faint wisp of peat.

Palate: Quite light and restrained on the palate. A little tropical fruit like pineapple and banana tempered with tart green apples and sharp citrus. Barley, caramel, white pepper and then that wisp of peat again. 

Finish: Short with a little citrus, caramel and vanilla.

Score: 6 out of 10

Hazelburn 10 year old 46% abv (21.11.21 bottling)

Nose: A lovely fresh and sweet nose. Crème brulee, canned peaches and vanilla ice cream. Orange and lime zest, honeydew melon and malt. A hint of cask char...or maybe even residual peat?

Palate: A nice creamy and light oily texture to this. The palate is a bit greener than the nose. Underripe peach and melon alongside green apple. Vanilla and clotted cream. Some aloe vera and mild ginger with some allspice too. A waxy note here too.

Finish: medium length that tapers off into key lime pie tartness

Score: 7 out of 10

Overall: Three good drams here. The 8 year old First Release was well balanced and unctuous although I though the distillate was a little over powered by the sherry. Still a really tasty whisky and one I'm happy I got to try. Thanks again Justine!

My bottle of the 8 year old was a solid enough experience but the nose was better than the palate and it just couldn't quite match the First Release. But considering it only cost €33 I really cannot complain one bit.

The 10 year old is a delightful little drop. Elegant, fresh and interesting. The touch of peat makes it no less interesting. Definitely worth looking into especially as it will likely be much more readily available than its 10 year old Springbank counterpart, although it is a very different experience.

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