Another day, another Springbank, as the old proverb goes. We continue this theme week and this time I have reviewed two bottlings which have partly or completely been matured in red wine casks, namely Hazelburn 9 Barolo Wine and Springbank 12 Burgundy Wood.
Hazelburn 9 Barolo Wine
General facts: This nine-year-old whisky is bottled at cask strength with an ABV of 57,9% and is neither coloured nor chill-filtered. The spirit has been matured for six years in new bourbon casks and then additional three years in refill Barolo casks, a red wine from northern Italy. A total of 10 800 bottles will be released.
Colour: Light golden
Nose: Red apples and newly baked sourdough bread. Red currants and a light, dry and vinous note. Sea Buckthorn. At first the nose seems a bit disoriented but promising, and it grows sweeter with time. Honey and champagne in a sense, but the honey takes over more and more. A soft nose that doesn’t give away the high ABV at all. With water: first red, sour candy stripes, artificial raspberry scent, and then a more complex depth emerges. It’s as if all the previously disoriented notes have found their place, and with time this transforms into a thick layer of tutti frutti sprinkles, right after like a bucket of pear popsicles.
Taste: Naturally a bit spirity at first, then spicy with cinnamon and allspice. There is a candy-sweet fruitiness here too, with pears, green wine gums and mixed market-like candy. Caramel sauce. With water you get cardamom buns, vanilla sugar, even more honey and some black pepper. Just like the nose the taste “comes together” a bit more now and the different taste notes pull in the same direction, to be very imprecise. The flavour turns more elegant and the candy-like notes more evident. Some raspberry candy, but also something that reminds me of vanilla waffles.
Finish: Bready with a lot of cocoa and again just a hint of black pepper. Pretty long finish with pear drops clinging on to the taste buds. After water the aftertaste becomes just a tiny bit longer and blooms, and after only a moment a note similar to the cough drops “The King of Denmark” (Kungen av Danmark).
Springbank 12 Burgundy Wood
General facts: This twelve-year-old is also bottled at cask strength (at 53,5%) and this is also a red wine matured whisky. This time, however, it’s new French casks from Bourgogne where, according to the info info been given, the whisky has spent all its years in these casks. 10 260 bottles witll be released in total, and just like any other bottling from this distillery the whisky is neither coloured nor chill-filtered.
Colour: Dark golden
Nose: Lightly peated, leathery nose (“Horse saddel” the hubbie exclaimes happily, after having tasted. A bit unclear where he got that reference from.). Slightly medicinal, perhaps? Some gunpowder and then blackberry jam. Loads of almond macaroons after som air and water, and now the nose turn somewhat waxy and simply amazeballs.
Taste: Smoke, quite a lot of smoke and old leather. Also pretty rowdy and interesting, with fruits like pears and lemon that find their way through the pretty intense flavours. I actually find it a bit hard to get past the big, bold flavors at first. With water the whisky becomes sweeter and calms down, and some dried apricots, faint nuttiness and salty licorice emerges.
Finish: The peat smoke and the leather dominate the fairly long finish. Then some lemon and saltness together with more peat and some coffee. With water the coffee disappears and the smoke calms down, leaving room for some charcuteries to emerge.
Wow, what a couple of bottlings! I’m not sure I can sense the red wine casks that much, but I’m sure they contribute to a different kind of character and complexity. So which one did I prefer? Fresh and malty tuttifrutti/popsicles in a bottle, or a smoke- and leather bomb that then turns into sweet, salty and cocky? Unclear, and what a luxury problem to have! I would need about 68 more centilitre of each in order to decide. Can I mix them together? No? Okey, in that case I choose… At first I was going to write Hazelburn (I’ve always had a weak spot for Hazelburn, ever since the first time I tried the 12 yo), but the more I taste them side by side the Springbank leaves a bigger impression. I have a serious problem with ignoring a whisky that roars in my ear, and this one does just that.