Okay, after a week of bourbon reviews let’s do a week of Campbeltown reviews. This is going to be a very low-utility series as all the reviews are going to be of bottles that were hand-filled at Springbank (presumably) in August. I did not fill them myself; I went in on a bottle split with the person who did. My understanding is that these hand-fills are not single casks but more like infinity vattings that get topped up when they get too low. And given the likely foot traffic at Springbank in the summer it’s quite likely that the composition turns over every day or two. I’ll start with the Hazelburn—the triple-distilled, unpeated variant of Springbank—then go on to the Springbank hand-fill and finally end the week with the Longrow, which is nominally more heavily peated than Springbank. I say “nominally” because in practice it’s not always possible to tell the peat levels of Springbank and Longrow apart; and, in fact, I’ve even had a Hazelburn that had more than a bit of peat in it. Let’s see where this one falls.
Hazelburn Hand-Filled, August 2022 (57%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Cereal, a bit of lemon along with some orchard fruit (apples, pears); a hint of smoke. The sweeter fruit intensifies with each sniff, turning a bit musky/overripe. As it sits the lemon expands and gets some rock salt mixed into it; the char expands as well. A few drops of water push the char and lemon back a bit but it’s otherwise in the same vein.
Palate: Comes in with more than a bit of coal smoke along with wet wool, olive oil and the cereal notes. A bit hot but approachable; nice texture. As it sits, the familiar Springbank complex of brine, burlap, coriander seed, damp earth etc. shows up in force. Continues along these lines with the lemon and salt expanding with time. Okay, let’s add some water. Sweeter with water and there’s also more of the wet wool.
Finish: Long. The olive oil is in the lead here, turning more peppery as it goes. Develops as on the palate with time and water.
Comments: Well, this is the least Hazelburn’ish Hazelburn I’ve ever had. With all the coal smoke and char, I would have said it was a Longrow. Did they not clean out the equipment between distillation runs or did the hand-fill container this was in previously contain Longrow? Hard to say. Anyway: it’s very good!
Rating: 88 points.