Campbeltown

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.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $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.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average at $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.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $116.


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.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average at $100. If you haven’t had it, though, I strongly urge you to - it is extremely complex and rather unique in terms of Scotch.


Review: Longrow 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
46%
Aging
18 Yrs; Refill Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Springbank (Campbeltown, Scotland)

Springbank is one of my favorite Scottish distilleries, as many connoisseurs would say. The company has consistently produced good quality product, remains family owned, and has weathered the whisky craze well - they have dropped age statements on some of their products but the whisky has continued high quality. Springbank distillery produces three types of spirit - a lightly peated, triple distilled (and thus quite light) Hazelburn, a medium peated Springbank, and a heavily peated Longrow. They are all worth seeking out, and are all terrific winter drams. The 18 year old Longrow is one of my favorite whiskies, and my favorite product I've tried out of Springbank. In the right store, it's also really not that expensive. It is extremely well received - it is a challenge to find anything other than exceptional scores for this whisky.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code:

  • Bottling Date: 2016

I just put my nose to the glass and thought – wow. Beautiful, rich oak, candle wax, orange, stuffed baked apples, caramel, wood smoke, Belgian endives, buckwheat…rich, fascinating stuff. Rich, but more from the oak than from the spirit itself. Stewed apricots. Absolutely fascinating nose. As it sits, a bit of the heavy, waxy Springbank character sets in.

On the palate, surprisingly light with lots of buckwheat and a smoky, peppery kick – though there’s also the carry through of all of that floral element, the dried fruit, and stewed pears. Full of grains here – distinctly buckwheat, but still very full of malt and cooked orange as well. Dried fruit. The finish carries through with buckwheat and some other grain also. The springbank heaviness is there, but it is tempered with the oak. Terrific mouthfeel. I expected more wood on the palate…this goes down easy! The standard longrow is more smoky, but pales in comparison to this in all areas other than smoke. Truly an elegant dram. Very chewy.

Smouldering wood coals on the finish, some dried chickpeas, with stewed fruit aplenty, and a few dried flowers thrown in. But what a nose! The buckwheat is also so surprising, and so unique. Terrific stuff.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $142. So, it’s good enough even not to be a particularly bad buy at $142! (I generally don’t like buying above $100 bottles).