Review: Hazelburn 10 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
10 years; Ex-bourbon casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Springbank (Campbeltown, Scotland)

Hazelburn is the lighter brand of Springbank - it is made from triple distilled spirit, as opposed to the Springbank and Longrow which are not as highly distilled - resulting in a different spirit that we would expect to be lighter. As Scotch is typically distilled twice, this is one of the less common methods for distillation in Scotch. As with Springbank whiskies, it is bottled without chill filtration and without coloring.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Apple-y, and a bit raw with quite a few mineral characteristics coming through on the nose – it reminds me quite distinctly of seashells. It is light – peach, white grape, honey baked pears – but it still has that heavy richness of springbank that is a bit oily and waxy. There’s a light bit of a sweet confectionary element to the nose.

The taste is quite light – walnuts, apples, vanilla sweetness, and the lightest touch of dried fruit. There is a light bit of complexity coming in from the spirit, and the finish develops through vanilla and caramel and toffee and light apple and almond and the lightest touch of smoke. The whisky is designed to be on the lighter side of Springbank – it certainly is, and held a lot more complexity than I expected from the nose, and doesn’t taste too raw or young – also not something I expected based on the nose – that Springbank distillate is brilliant stuff. If the finish were more expressive this would be a notch higher also.

Score: 85/100

Value: 39/100 (based on $84)


Review: Longrow Peated Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
N/A
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Springbank (Campbeltown, Scotland)

This comes from Springbank's peated stream of whiskies, all under the brand name of Longrow. Longrow whiskies are distilled twice, which is less than the other whisky streams produced by Springbank (Springbank whiskies are distilled "2 and a half times" and Hazelburn three times) - so, you might expect a bit of a heavier spirit than that of Springbank or Hazelburn. Non-chill filtered and natural color in the great tradition of Springbank.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: 02.04.15 15/144
  • Bottling Date: 2015

Fascinating aromas - rubbery, lightly smoky, apple, pepper, dried apricot, with a big malt character to it, oranges - but still with that rich springbank oiliness. A bit of youth here too. On the palate, quite viscous, and showing surprising lightness while also brilliantly holding the complexity underneath. Great stuff.

Score: 88/100

Value: 56/100 (based on $98)


Review: Springbank 12 Year Old Cask Strength Campbeltown Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
~53%
Aging
12 years; First Fill and Refill Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Springbank (Campbeltown, Scotland)

This is a limited, yearly release, of a 12 year old Springbank bottled at cask strength, created from a mix of sherry casks - 40% from refill/reused sherry casks and 60% from first fill sherry casks. Also, non-chill filtered and natural colour.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 2014 (53.2%)
  • Bottling Code: Springbank 12 Y/O 14/532
  • Bottling Date: 2014

The lightest hint of Sulphur here. Rich, heavy, waxy, with caramel, white pepper, baked apple, orange peel, cacao, intense raisins, dates, sea shells, fresh broccoli, Belgian endives – terrific complexity.

The palate is dark, smoky, waxy…in so many ways quite similar to the 10 year old, but bigger and a bit deeper. A bit of rancio comes through, with some raisin, fresh grape, and rich stewed fruits and spices. Almost a bit chutney like – suppose you simmered raisins, apples, and peaches in butter and lots of clove and cinnamon…it’s not a perfect description, but it is a bit of a picture of what you get here. Almonds on the finish. At times, even, there are flashes of more exotic spices – as if turmeric, cumin, coriander, clove, black peppercorns – were all heated off in a frying pan to release their aromas.

Lightest bit of Sulphur on the end, which I generally don’t like at all, but it fits in a little to the peppery and dried fruit style of this. A terrific winter dram. The finish is spicy and smoky – cinnamon, clove, tannin, and smoke. A touch of oak, also, on the finish. And, some apple emerges amidst the smoke too in a wonderful way. Smoky oak on the finish. And malt.  Terrific. Full, and long.

An ultimate brooding malt. Also the strength is just right – it goes down, and as it does, it seems to coat your mouth, almost season it, in a way that builds and just makes it seem that the more you have, the more full the finish. It begs a second pour.

More complex and better balanced on the nose than the 10 y.o. Fits a cold winter night just right.

Score: 89/100

Value: 50/100 (based on $116)


Review: Blackstrap Rum (Last Straw Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

Image copyright by Last Straw Distillery Corp. Used with Permission.

ABV
45.3%
Aging
1 Year; European Oak
Recipe
100% Blackstrap Molasses
Distiller Last Straw (Vaughan, Ontario)

This is the blackstrap rum which I loved - an unaged rum which is perhaps my favorite white rum ever. It has now been matured in a cask, so we have some age to it...


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Cask 1
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is oily, with lots of white pepper, blueberry, molasses, cilantro, chipotle- still that classic blackstrap flavour, but with oak this time – the palate is lightly confectionary, with oak, blueberry, molasses, white pepper, brown sugar...the finish fades out with dried berry notes, white pepper, and molasses. The finish has some nice oily, vanilla, toffee notes which just go on. A really nice rum! On the lighter side, and I really like it – though I still might oddly prefer blackstrap to this. I do love that white rum.

Score: 83/100

Value: 64/100 (based on $50)


Review: Triple Beam Gin (North of 7 Distillery) by Jason Hambrey

Triple Beam.jpg
ABV
40%
Aging
None
Recipe
N/A
Distiller North of 7 Distillery (Ottawa, Canada)

A gin from North of 7 distillery here in Ottawa. They hand dry the juniper to get the moisture levels they want, and the baby of one of the two guys that head up the distillery. It is made with 11 botanicals (including local juniper) measured on their triple beam scale (hence the name) and distilled from their vodka base (from corn and sugar) in their dedicated gin still. The botanicals going into the gin - juniper, coriander, Angelica root, orris root, lime peel, caraway, cardamom, aniseed, licorice root, black pepper, and nutmeg.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2017

The nose is spicy and lightly soapy, with peppery spice all around a soft juniper and citrus centre. Not a sharp gin, but rather a broad and easy one – full of complexity. The palate is soft and citrusy, rising to a spicy crescendo of black pepper, coriander, and clove before dying down to a finish of dried mixed citrus peel, light juniper, white pepper and light green chilli. Enjoyable to sip (though I like gins which are bigger on the juiniper scale), good on ice, and mixes very well.

Score: 4/5


Review: Springbank 10 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
10 years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Springbank (Campbeltown, Scotland)

Campbeltown, a small whisky region in Scotland, used to be a buzzing whisky producing area with many distilleries but now is home to only three, of which Springbank is one and the same family which owns Springbank owns Glengyle, another. The distillery malts, distills, ages, and bottles all of their whisky on site – the only Scottish distillery which does so. It is privately owned by a family, and was founded in 1828, though it was closed from 1979 to 1987 and 08-09. The family has retained good practices, and the whiskies are presented very well – without added colouring or filtration, and at a good proof to allow the flavours to come through. Springbank is distilled “2 and a half times” – by that meaning that some of the new make has been distilled twice, and some three times, with long fermentations which bring out more fruity characters. The same distillery also makes other single malts – a more heavily peated Longrow (distilled twice) and an unpeated Hazelburn (distilled three times).
 


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Caramel (much like the character you see in some sherries), lemon peel, dried apricot, and vanilla with some light earthy peatiness and olive oil. Underneath is some more light fruitiness of pear, apple, and some honey. It’s fairly heavy, and perhaps “dark” in character with good depth. The lemon seems to grow a bit with time and “lifts” the aroma overall out of its darker and heavier character.

Taste: Orange and citrus, toffee, coconut, pear, with a structure of earthy peat, malt, light vanilla sweetness, a briny feel, and a touch of ashy smoke. Reasonably sweet, but not out of balance at all. Very nicely structured, with the various elements supporting one another.

Finish: A bit more ashy smoke, light peaty earthiness, malt, and some more pear with a bit more of a nutty character than I noticed elsewhere fading eventually to light smokiness, earthiness, and malt. Nice length.

I quite like the structure, weight, and balance of this whisky – a brilliant winter dram, I think – though to some may not be as approachable. The complexity and fullness of this one makes it a whisky which is continually challenging – in a very enjoyable way. I don’t know how often I would reach for it in the summer or spring, but I’m really loving this in the chilly weather…also the bottle for me fits the malt so well – it seems to personify the darkness of the malt with the black and the citrus in it with the orange, all in a heavy set bottle.

Score: 88/100

Value: 63/100 (based on $90)


Review: Scapa 22 Year Old 1991 Single Malt Scotch Whisky (MacKillop's Choice) by Jason Hambrey

ABV
57.1%
Aging
22 years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Scapa (Kirkwall, Scotland)

Highland Park’s other companion on Orkney, Scapa is part of the Ballantine’s stable. They use very long fermentation times to obtain a very fruity malt, and they use a unique Lomond still for part of their distillation - of which there are few in existence – Bruichladdich also has one.

This is a single cask from the independent bottler MacKillop's Choice.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Cask 1211
  • Bottling Code: N/A
  • Bottling Date: 2013

On the nose: very fruity, with grape, peach, fresh apricot, apple, plum, violets, hay…I suppose fresh fruit and dried plants. Though there is some dried apricot. Old leather,

The palate is oily with a lot of dried grassy character (like hay), vanilla, chamomile, caramel, custard, caramelized peaches, and a light touch of oak on the end. There is oak lightly on the palate, but it doesn’t dominate. Very easy to drink – though I’m not sure if I would say that it is that interesting. The end has some light cedar, and some interesting tropical notes too that I can’t quite pin down in this sitting – maybe something like dried lychee? Remarkably easy at 57% - I would have guessed this to be 50% or 48% on the palate – one of the easiest 57%ers I have ever had. Nicely oily, and some good cinnamon and clove too.

Score: 86/100

Value: 0/100 (based on $302)


Review: Old Pulteney 17 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
17 years; Ex-bourbon and Ex-sherry casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Pulteney (Wick, Scotland)

I had trouble finding this once looking for it - but, though Ontario hasn't seen it - to my knowledge - Quebec gets it from time to time, albeit at a bit of a cost. Pulteney expressions mature beautifully - worth a try, if you see it.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L14 123 R14/5173 IB 10:00
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Some very nice fruit here. And really opens up. Wax, mangoes, toffee, and some hay malty notes as on the nose. Honey, almonds, grapefruit, rose, some of those cheesy sherry notes,

The palate is very flavourful, with lots of nice straw, hamster cage, spices behind the scenes, terrific malt, honey – big with good mouthfeel. The sherry makes its presence lightly known. Terrific barley, and strong woody notes…hmm, how do I describe it – reminding me of twigs breaking as I gather them for afire. Quite a mixed bowl of candied nuts too. Mmm.

Finish has honey, light wood, and some very nice spices once again. Great feel to it. Vanilla and oak creeping through as well. And a bit dry and spicy, yet surprisingly a bit creamy.

Very well balanced, very enjoyable. Changes nicely, as well.

Score: 89/100

Value: 21/100 (based on $155)


Review: Old Pulteney 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
12 years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Pulteney (Wick, Scotland)

Old Pulteney is the northernmost mainland distillery in the UK on the mainland (overall, Highland Park wins out). The distillery produces a number of age statement products, a 12, 17, and 21 year old along with a number of no age statement travel retail products. The distillery is quite small overall, The town of Wick sprung up around fishing, and was the herring fishing capital of Europe resulting in a rich maritime tradition in the town – a tradition the distillery often tries to honor through its limited bottlings. The distillery is fairly small (1 million litres per annum), yet still is quite widely distributed worldwide, though bottlings can be hard to find at times.


Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A
  • Bottling Code: L14 D86 R14/5122 IB 10:44
  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: Quite barley and malt driven, and a bit oily, with a touch of oak and apples (stewed and fresh), persimmon, hay, honey, and cedar. Overall, it’s quite light, though, and the previous ancillary flavours are light. A light influence of the dark fruitiness and spiciness – a bit like that of sherry casks, though this is made with ex-bourbon casks. There is some harsh bitterness too, at times it thankfully lifts off, but is quite detracting generally – otherwise this score would be up quite a bit.

Taste: Fairly sweet, with a simple but lovely integration of barley with a bit of wood and nuttiness and honey. Dangerously easy to drink down! There is almost a bit of corn-like grain on the end, with some green vegetal-like grainy notes too, alongside cinnamon which all throw intrigue into the mix.

Finish: Malt leads us here! Initially creaminess builds here, but then spices take over – stale cinnamon, and oaky spices and vanilla too. Quite satisfying. Light fruity notes akin to apple once again.

It seems simple, but this is an extremely satisfying malt. It changes, and is wonderfully integrated. It really does seem primed to shine with even more time in oak, as it does evidenced by the quality of the older expressions. As an aside, the bottle is very nice aesthetically- one of my favorites.

Score: 85/100

Value: 50/100 (based on $80)


Review: Glendronach 1994 Single Cask Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
54.9%
Aging
17 years; Oloroso Sherry Cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Glendronach (Forgue by Huntly, Scotland)

Glendronach bottles some absolutely terrific single casks - when you can find them. They used to be easier to get, and cheaper - but so it goes.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: Cask 1503.  Bottle541/671
  • Bottling Code: 11/11/1994.     08/2012.    17 Years
  • Bottling Date: 2012

The nose is brilliant. Spicy, woody, dense, dred rose petals, and spicecake. Lots of sherry.  The palate is lightly tart, with slight earthy peat, lots of sherry, rancio, nuts, dried fruit, oak…and it is big. Hmm…some nice cacao too and a brilliant finish full of nuts, spices, and dried fruit. I think that actually covers most of it – but what makes this a great whisky is that all of the notes are within themselves quite complex and deep, making for quite a terrific whisky. Brilliant dryness on the finish.

Score: 89/100

Value: 5/100 (based on $200)