Hazelburn Oloroso Cask Matured 14 year old, 13 year old and 13 year old Limited Edition

I have to say that I do have a soft spot for Hazelburn, mainly I think because it is the underdog of the trio of delights that are offered by Springbank. Probably overlooked due to it's triple distillation which in the eye's of some make it an 'Irish' style whisky. That is of course a slightly lazy comparison. Yes, it's distilled three times but that doesn't take into account the barley, the yeast, the fermentation times, the still sizes and shapes, the human interaction. Hazelburn is it's own thing, much in the same way that double distilled Cooley single malt isn't trying to be Irish 'Scotch'.

Here in Ireland producers like Rademon flit between double and triple distillation to provide a variety of products and for their own fun! If you have the facility to do so then why not? Some see double distillation as superior to triple distillation but it's never that simple. I've had as equally insipid drams that are double distilled as their triple distilled brethren. 

The current Hazelburn 10 year old is a cracking little dram. Fully bourbon matured, it doesn't quite hit the heights of the more sought after Springbank 10 that throws in some sherry maturation too, but it's clean and zesty little number that I found really enjoyable. So let's see how Hazelburn copes when given the full sherry treatment!

First up is the 14 year old Oloroso Cask release that was distilled in October 2004 and bottled in February 2019 at 49.3% with an outturn of 9,900 bottles. This was fully matured in Oloroso sherry casks and cost £55 I believe.

Second up is the 13 year old Oloroso Cask release that was distilled in June 2007 and bottled September 2020 at 50.3% abv with an outturn of 9,900 bottles. Again fully matured in Oloroso sherry casks and was roughly £60.

The final bottle is the 13 year old Limited Edition. Distilled in June 2007 and bottled on April 2021 at 48.6% abv with an outturn of 6,300 bottles. This differs from the previous releases in that it was matured in 75% bourbon casks and 25% sherry casks. This cost £57. It should possibly bear more than a passing resemblance to the core 10 year old.

All my bottles were acquired through the legends that are Fairley's Wines in Coleraine.

Let's taste! 

Hazelburn 14 year old Oloroso 49.3% abv (2019 release)

Nose: A lovely nose – sawn wood, roasted nuts, raisins, cinnamon, leather and cocoa powder. Tobacco leaf, pine resin, orange peel and a waxy note too. Spearmint and rubbed brass.

Palate: A really nice, creamy mouthfeel. Straight away it’s a bit dirty and sooty along with balsamic reduction. Cocoa and tobacco leaf. Lanolin, orange marmalade, raisin and slated caramel. Walnuts. Eventually stewed apples with nutmeg and cinnamon.

Finish: Pretty short annoyingly with a touch of rose water, sultanas and drying oak.

Score: 6 out of 10

Hazelburn 13 year old fresh Oloroso 50.3% abv (2020 release)

Nose: Those fresh Oloroso casks make their presence felt but aren’t overpowering. There’s red fruit first – raspberry liqueur and cherry laces, strawberry jam. There is orange slices before heading to dried fig, raisins, leather and fresh tobacco. Cinnamon, toasted hazelnuts and an oily dirtiness. Pineapple cubes also come through at the end.

Palate: A nice body to this, viscous and palate coating. Bright fruit notes again – cherry, strawberry and pineapple cubes segue into a pleasant warming spice of cinnamon, clove rock and light pepper. Some blackcurrant now along with toasted nuts, leather, copper and a little farmyard funk.

Finish: medium to long with a some medicinal astringency along with cola, leather, tobacco and sherry.

Score: 8 out of 10


Hazelburn 13 year old Limited Edition 48.6% abv (2021 release)

Nose: Quite clean and fresh with some tropical fruit sweetness. Orange blossom, sliced apples, pineapple and mango. Bee pollen, fresh laundry and dried mixed herbs. There’s a slight engine oil note in the background. Sawdust too. Time brings some sherry influence with sultanas and toasted nuts.

Palate: Quite a creamy mouthfeel. This is not as fruity as the nose. Soot, a little engine oil, linseed oil turning into lime marmalade. Sultana and a dry nuttiness. Copper and a touch of new leather.

Finish: A little short to be honest. Mild pepper heat, dirty soot and preserved lemon and limes.

Score: 5 out of 10


Overall: Peaks and troughs. The 2019 release was a solid enough dram with the nose out performing the palate and finish. Easy enough to drink with just a smidge of the Campbeltown funk but not one that you’d find yourself reaching for over and over a again.

The 2020 release was an absolute belter. Thankfully this wasn’t overpowered by those fresh Oloroso casks but rather they complimented the distillate. Tropical fruit married with jammy and nutty notes from the Oloroso casks, Campbeltown funk and a great finish meant this bottle didn’t last too long. Thankful to have had the opportunity to have owned the bottle, very sad to see it go.

The 2021 release is definitely the weakest of the three. As with the other two the nose was really inviting but the palate and finish were a bit of let down. A decent whisky but not really very memorable or engaging.

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