No distillery does the 21-year-old age statement quite like Springbank does it. The older releases are legendary and include some of the best whiskies ever produced. The newer ones are highly sought after also, whether they be a Springbank, Longrow, and yes, even Hazelburn. For the past two years, Springbank has bottled a Hazelburn 21 Years. Today, we take a look at the 2023 edition.
Springbank famously produces three different styles of whisky. Their eponymous spirit style is most heralded, while Longrow is a close second. Hazelburn, the third and final style produced at Springbank, has at times been somewhat overlooked. And I can’t quite put my finger on why. Because every time I drink Hazelburn, the whisky so undeniably carries the Springbank DNA.
Hazelburn is supposed to be unpeated, but I swear I sometimes pick up traces of smoke anyway. And while triple-distilled, Hazelburn isn’t just your run-of-the-mill light, fruity, elegant spirit either. It even has that elusive Campbeltown funk, which, let’s be honest, by now maybe should just be called Springbank funk. Not saying there aren’t any “funky” Glen Scotia at all, but I find this trait much more present across the J&A Mitchell owned distilleries.
Anyway, Hazelburn 21 Years. Matured in 80% ex-bourbon casks, 10% ex-sherry casks and 10% ex-port casks. Last year’s edition was reduced to and bottled at the standard 46%. The 2023 edition is bottled at cask strength, but sits slightly lower at just 43.2%. Some very thirsty angels were involved in this one.
Hazelburn 21 Years (43.2%, OB, 2023)
Nose: Soft minerals (wet pebbles mostly) with touches of crushed mint, some orange peels, nectarines and a sliver of cigar boxes. Red fruits are lingering in the background, mostly cherries, but some raspberries too, as well as some faint farmyard-y notes. Taste: A buttery mouthfeel with some distinct mineral touches, then an initial sweetness, followed by a robust earthy note alongside bouillon broth. Somewhat sooty and maritime, as wel as just a pinch of black pepper and some hessian. Sweeter citrus fruits sometimes pop up as well. Finish: Medium length. Gentle salinity with a soft bitterness and herbs.
Hazelburn sometimes becomes Springbank's forgotten sibling. Peat sells, and this 21-year-old barely has any noticeable peat. But it does have plenty of that Springbank minerality, earthiness and overall Campbeltown funk. I love it.