This is a peculiar Hazelburn expression. I can find very little information about it online, which suggests that it didn't get broad distribution. However, it happens to exist locally and I was able to get a dram at the Highland Stillhouse.
Hazelburn is the unpeated, triple-distilled whisky produced by the Springbank distillery. I reviewed the CV expression a few months back and found it to be much more interesting than most triple-distilled single malts, but a bit too woody.
This whisky is an 8 year old Hazelburn matured exclusively in bourbon casks and bottled at cask strength. This is rather uncommon, as almost all of the OB Hazelburns are either blends of whiskies matured in bourbon casks and wine casks or bourbon matured whisky finished in wine casks.
Nose: strong brine, creamy, warm caramel, lightly woody (sawdust?). After adding a splash of water, the brine becomes somewhat lighter, orange/wood notes come out along with vanilla, and there's a hint of brown sugar bacon.
Taste: wood sugars up front, then it evaporates into creamy brine, fruit and a whisper of wood mid-palate. After dilution, the initial sweetness becomes a bit flatter, but it is more expressive and has more body mid-palate, woodier, but not bitter, slightly drying at the end.
Finish: sweetness returns, fruit, lingering creamy brine. After dilution there is residual heat, wood, vanilla, caramel, and diminished brine.
While not the most complex whisky ever, I feel like this is the purest expression of Hazelburn. Brine in abundance, clarity of flavors, and no harshness to speak of. I was shocked by just how dark this whisky is after only 8 years in oak, but just as surprisingly there were almost no oak tannins present. A peculiar whisky all around and I'm sad that I missed picking up what may have been the last bottle available. I was looking forward to comparing it to the Hazelburn Sauterne Cask that I got a few months back. However, we do get the almost as rare Hazelburn Cask Strength right now, so I'll have to decide if that one is worth a $110 risk.
Jim Rutledge Lays an Egg
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