Whisky Review #106: Campbeltown Triple Threat Part 1 – Hazelburn vs Springbank vs Longrow

After a nice 3 week hiatus, I’m back!

Prior to my break, I made plans to make this and the next review a two-part look at some of the wondrous whiskies from the Campbeltown region and we will be taking in three expressions which make up the three main pillars of Springbank: namely Hazelburn (Unpeated), Springbank (Peated) & Longrow (Heavily peated).

This week’s review will take in the following expressions from the distillery:

  • Hazelburn 13 Years Old Oloroso Cask
  • Springbank 15 Years Old Single Cask (Premium Scotch Importers)
  • Longrow Red 13 Years Old Malbec Cask Finish

As we have previously delved into the history of Springbank, we will not revisit it in this review. However, those who are looking for more information can find it here: Springbank

So, let’s jump right into the reviews!

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Hazelburn 13 Years Old Oloroso

This expression of Hazelburn was crafted from a selection of first-fill and refill Oloroso sherry casks and bottled at 13 years of age and at a cask strength abv of 47.1% by the distillery.

Hazelburn 13 Years Old Oloroso (47.1% abv)

Colour: Copper

Nose: Initial entry presents clean, sweet and fruity hints which are reminiscent of strawberry jam, icing sugar and orange zest. With time, oak, cinnamon and sherried hints emerge and intermingle well with some white pepper and dark chocolate shavings. (21/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents a pronounced sherried note which is not cloying, but well represented, followed by some wine gums, a certain coastal saltiness which is typical of Campbeltown whiskies and some drying oak. With time, cinnamon, nutmeg, dark chocolate shavings, chocolate oranges and some menthol emerge. (21/25)

Finish: Medium to long on the finish, with the sherry, wine gums, cinnamon and oak carrying through to the end. (20/25)

Balance: Quite a well-balanced and enjoyable dram which exhibits the clean and fruity aspects of the Hazelburn DNA while allowing for the complexities to shine through. (21/25)

Rating: 83/100

Springbank 15 Years Old Single Cask (Premium Scotch Importers)
Springbank 15 Years Old Single Cask (Bottled for Premium Scotch Importers)

This expression of Springbank was distilled in November 2000, matured in an ex-Oloroso sherry hogshead for 15 years and bottled at a cask strength abv of 48.3% by the distillery for Australian importer, Premium Scotch Importers (PSI) with a yield of only 276 bottles.

Springbank 15 Years Old Single Cask (Bottled for Premium Scotch Importers, 48.3% abv)

Colour: Burgundy

Nose: Initial entry presents a nice perfumed nose which exhibits nice jammy hints followed by rich red fruits such as apricots, prunes and sherried raisins. There is an alcoholic edge to this dram and it is followed by black pepper, oak, a touch of sea salt, dusky peat and slight acetone hints. Cinnamon and green notes round things off. (22/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents a slightly sweet and sherried hint, followed by black pepper, chewy malt, acetone hints and barley sugar. The red fruits from the nose emerge in earnest soon after and are followed by cinnamon, vegetal and oaky hints as well as some peat smoke and brine. (23/25)

Finish: Long, lingering and nicely sherried on the finish, with the light vegetal and oaky undertones from the palate intermingling well with the sea salt and chewy malt hints to give this dram an elegant edge. (23/25)

Balance: An extremely well-balanced dram which exhibits an oily edge which becomes slightly drying over time. The sherry hints counterbalance the coastal salt and peat as well as the oak and cinnamon hints very well. (22/25)

Rating: 90/100

longrow-red-13-year-old-malbec-cask-finish-whisky
Longrow 13 Years Old Malbec Cask Finish

This expression of Longrow was matured for the first 12 years of its life in ex-bourbon barrels before being transferred to ex-Malbec casks for a finishing period of 15 months before being bottled at a cask strength abv of 51.3% by the distillery.

Longrow 13 Years Old Malbec Cask Finish (51.3% abv)

Colour: Burnished copper

Nose: Initial entry presents a remarkably soft peat hint followed by red fruits such as apricots, peaches and maraschino cherries. The peat becomes more dusky with time and is complemented by hints of black pepper, drying oak, camphor and sea salt. (20/25)

Palate: More of the same on the palate, with the peat initially being rather soft before developing a more dusky character. It is complemented by the red fruits from the nose as well as the black pepper, oak, camphor, sea salt and dark chocolate shavings.

With time, the wood spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg emerge and are followed by tobacco pouch, hints of worn leather and cigar ash. (22/25)

Finish: Medium on the finish, with the dusky peat, red fruits, worn leather and oak hints being the most prominent of the lot. (21/25)

Balance: A rather well-balanced and interesting expression of Longrow which exhibits the typical ruggedness brought on by the peat as well as the more elegant finesse brought on by the finish in the Malbec casks. (21/25)

Rating: 84/100

These expressions are all pretty impressive in their own right, but it has to be said that the Springbank bottled by PSI is the standout of the bunch.

These expressions are sold out for the most part on most online portals, but they may be available for purchase at some retail stores or auction sites. I believe that the Springbank would be the hardest to find primarily due to its extremely limited nature.

In the event that one is to find that Springbank, though, please do give it a try. I’m not entirely sure if they still have it, but it may still be available to be sampled at The Elysian Whisky Bar in Fitzroy, Melbourne.

Until the next review, have a wonderful week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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