Hazelburn 12 Year
Nose: juicy raisins/sherry, fudgy dates, light mint/menthol, very light oak, hard to find the malt, creamy vanilla, more integrated and malty with time - dusty grain and burn sugar. After adding a few drops of water, tons of caramel comes out alongside more malt, while the sherry retreats, after more time in the glass it settles down into a more standard Hazelburn mode - some salty bacon and floral notes pop out.
Taste: raisin/sherry sweetness throughout, prickles of pepper and oak tannins come in mid-palate, core of clean malt sugar, coffee beans and burnt sugar at the back. After dilution, there is more barrel/caramel sweetness, sherry tucks underneath the other flavors, a lot more wood comes out, at the back its falls apart a bit - sour/purple, dank sherry, but balanced with some salty oatmeal.
Finish: sherry and malt bounce back and forth, light oak tannins, slightly vegetal/malty
This was not one of my favorites. While it improved a bit near the end with some oxidation, it never really settled into a good groove. While the malt was largely overwhelmed by the sherry, it didn't fit well into the sherry bomb slot either. I don't know if these just weren't particularly great sherry casks or what, but they didn't have the freshness that I would hope for from a relatively young whisky.
It's just my own tastes, but I'd really prefer it if Springbank backed off on the sherry with Hazelburn. The spirit on its own is just so good that much more adornment mostly distracts from what makes it so good. Some ex-bourbon cask whiskies are kind of boring and need the extra flavors that sherry can bring to them, but Hazelburn is more than capable of standing on its own. I'd much rather have a pure ex-bourbon 12 year old that would let the spirit shine.
Capping things, Hazelburn 12 Year is incredibly expensive in the United States. The only place I've ever seen with a halfway decent price is The Party Source (where I bought my bottle) and they don't ship anymore. More often it's over $80 (all the way up to $122 in Oregon, which is just insane), which is hard to justify. Unfortunately shipping from the UK is also pretty expensive now, so that's not any better. There really isn't a good way to get it from where I'm at.