Hazelburn 9 Year Old Barolo Cask / Bot.2016 Sweet Bitter

The Hazelburn marquee doesn’t get the same amount of love as it’s other two siblings, it is definitely a different style not as immediate as the heavily peated Longrow or the industrial wonder Springbank. It certainly doesn’t match up with most people’s ideas of triple distilled whisky, it’s got the depth that you don’t get from something like Auchentoshan and sometimes seems to retain a slight peaty funk despite not being made from peated barley.

The most recent releases have had some sort of double maturation or cask finishing much like this one here, six years in first fill bourbon & then three years in refill barolo Hogsheads, I pitted this one against a cask strength SMWS Cooley from my previous review.

I was the gracious recipient of a heel of this bottle care of @Astroke

Nose: Sweet, cotton candy, definitely alcohol on the nose, soaked cake with sherry, fruits in syrup, cider vinegar, crystallized fruit & juicy fruit gum. Orgeat syrup, loads of vanilla & powdered sugar & cooked banana. It’s pretty sharp and sweet to start off then it diverges slightly with a green note, bay leaf, thyme, salt-cured lemons.

Palate: Full, slight sulfur, browned butter, candied papaya & pineapple. There’s a dark note, sharp almost ozone like, toasted almonds, it’s quite bitter on the back end with a woody/spicy note like cassia bark.

Finish: Lemon pith, sage, granny smith apples, paraffin, celery root, icing sugar, a trace of old leather and & mesquite smoke, peppery chili heat.

The Blab: The nose is shy at first but pleasant, the palate is oily, rich, with this dark note that eventually becomes this bitter/pithy thing that then takes over. The alcohol sharpness lingers until the end with that green chili, black pepper note.

Water helps reduce the bite but it heightens the pepper & lemons.

This one takes a while to tease out its charms, the nose leans heavily on sweet things, it’s the palate that has more oddness.

Hazelburn 9 Barolo Cask

57.9% ABV

85/100

Bushmills SMWS 51.12 – Pastries and sweet treats “A dram in hand is worth two in the Bushmills”

SMWS 51.12 “Pastries & Sweet Treats” Bushmills Distillery 15yrs old Distilled 22nd May 2002 58.9% ABV

I’ve doubled down on tackling my sample box of late, I’ve had success by putting my sessions together around contrast/compare, rather than honing in on a specific expression. With that in mind, when I went in search of a whisky to pit against a 9 yr Hazelburn Barolo cask, I remembered this sample that @talexander graciously provided.

This is a 15 yrs. old Bushmills triple distilled single malt from a first fill ex-bourbon barrel. It was bottled exclusively for the Canadian arm of the SMWS.

Nose: Starts off big all on fruits & jujubes, pineapple, pears, Muscat grapes a touch of talcum. Fresh oak, a slight dusty feeling, with time we get a lot of grain almost a beery lager smell. Finally it gets a bit herbal, lemon zest & thyme.

Palate: Sharp, astringent & mouth drying. Brown sugar, porridge, a touch of beeswax. There’s a green almost grassy feeling, lemon lozenges, and a touch of milk chocolate.

Finish: Creamy yogurt, more porridge, coconut oil & Brazil nuts, chili pepper heat & then finishes on astringent lemon pith and eucalyptus.

Notes: Interesting quite the difference between the nose & palate. It’s a big & bold version of Bushmills, that crazy astringency is a bit distracting, I had a similar experience with another Irish single cask from Eilin Lim and it just sucked the moisture right out of your mouth.

I am happy to have the opportunity to try this release as we rarely get access to Bushmills at cask strength or as single casks, it certainly would put an end to all this talk of Irish whisky being “light”.

Bushmills SMWS 51.12 – Pastries and sweet treats

58.9%ABV

83/100