Friday, August 8, 2014

Hazelburn 2003, 10 Year Old, Rundlets and Kilderkins 50.1%

Hazelburn - Springbank's triple distilled whisky.
It can be big and sweet. And it can also sometimes be a little light on complexity. But we don't always want or need super complex drams, so this is not necessarily a bad thing.

This is the third (and apparently final) Rundlets and Kilderkins release, which sees the whisky matured in very small barrels for the duration of its life. This extra wood contact is supposed to hasten the ageing process and thus give it a sense of maturity beyond its (relatively few) years.

I've tasted the earlier Longrow and Springbank R&K releases - and have got some bottles tucked away too - and found them to be pretty good examples of the distinctive style of each.

The bulk of this review comes from the very first pour after the bottle was opened - significant, as we shall see, due to the appearance, and subsequent disappearance, of a somewhat surprising note.

Hazelburn 2003, 10 Year Old, Rundlets and Kilderkins 50.1%

Nose: Wow, very heavily perfumed at first - it smells like a rose petal bath bomb (not that I've ever used such a thing, you understand. The better-half uses them. Honestly). After quite a while in the glass it dissipates a little - not entirely though - and some of that Campbeltown salt emerges. After even more time the perfume does eventually get taken over - by salted caramel, apricots and sweet vanilla.

[A second pour from the bottle two days later and the floral perfume notes have disappeared entirely. It comes across immediately as very Spingbank-like. Think early batches of 12 YO Cask Strength. A lot sweeter here, obviously, and less leathery, but the family resemblance is clear.]

Palate: Intense. A bit fiery at first. A burst of sweet honeycomb, followed by ripe papaya, honey and then ash. It's quite oily and slippery too.
With the addition of water the fruit comes to the fore. Something like heather comes out too. The oil becomes more viscous and rich as well. It's unmistakably Springbank-distilled.

Finish: Quite spicy. Ginger, honey, ash and smoke. A lingering sense of dry smoke persists for a very long time after the sweetness fades.
With water the finish becomes much sweeter and richer, extinguishing the ash and smoke somewhat.

It will be interesting to see how this whisky evolves over time. That floral perfume nose from the first pour was pretty bizarre. I've never encountered anything like it in a Springbank-distilled whisky before.
A belter of a malt otherwise, though. The small casks have done their job well here. Quite complex and full of interest, its oily mouthfeel ensures that this Hazelburn is also lovely to drink.

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