One happy dog and an orderly queue stretching right across the courtyard all the way back to the filling store at 10am can only mean one thing – Springbank Open Day. As we learned last year, join the queue even if you don’t intend to buy anything. It’s an opportunity to meet and reacquaint yourself with like-minded folk and swap samples on the fly.
It’s not long before Springbank’s customary Toblerone & Irn-Bru sing-along begins in earnest [pic below right].
Drywall Jim is first to crack open another private cask sample, this time a Caol Ila. He pours it freely. It’s a cracker. In response, I produce a 1980 Balmenach I bought some years ago [report to follow].
Someone recommends I check out the Cadenhead’s 23yo Benrinnes at 51.1%, still available in the shop at the time.
The Old Man Of Huy is pouring a 30yo Cadenhead’s Tormore. I find it quite challenging for the time of day. They’ll be a better time I’m sure.
Tancout shares his 2004/2005 maybe 2006 vintage Foursquare. I don’t remember the details and have mislaid the picture of it for now. It was a very excellent rum however and I provisionally rated it around 88 points.
By the time we reach the festival bottle marquee it’s time for breakfast, and not just any breakfast.
Whilst everyone settles, we are reminded how spoilt we were yesterday at the Springbank Society Tasting – cue reluctant [early morning] cheers. It is still only 11.30am! There’s a relaxed & welcoming feel to this tasting. Whilst we crack on, Cadenhead staff mingle amongst us.
We begin with an ideal looking sighter, one I’ve not had before. The nearest I’ve got to it is a 10yo Rundlets & Kilderkins batch which I loved, but of course, it’s a totally different beast.
- N: A light nose but the quince & blackcurrant jellies are pleasingly present.
- T: A drop of water is highly recommended. Tasty!
- F: An example of excellent composition.
- C: A light barley-led dram that deserves a permanent place on my shelf.
Scores 85 points easily.
[Springbank] Hazelburn 21yo  Un-Ob. Bourbon cask sample #1998-49 55%
This is the same cask that was opened at the Warehouse #3 tasting. It has seen full bourbon cask maturation. Picking up phenols from the previous Longrow run, it measures around 2ppm.
- N: Solid rich bourbon-cask led nose. Very SMWS!
- T: Nicely aged and not overdone, but a blatant resinous bourbon note rather disrupts the tropical fruit dance. Lots of water however promotes the barley mash.
- F: With water, the finish sees some fustiness. Otherwise we’ve a green, bourbon-led finish.
- C: The Foz: “Hazelburn on steroids“. I like it, but the [standard] 10yo easily maintains the lead.
Scores 83 points
[Springbank] Hazelburn 2007/2018 10yo Ob. Refill Sauternes hogsheads [846 bts] 55.9% WB88.94
- N: It’s winey & grape-y for sure.
- T: Saunternes-led, the spirit again lost to the cask.
- F: A touch smoky then barley husky clean.
- C: I bet this is super popular given the bold cask. Not for me.
Scores 78 points
[Springbank] Hazelburn 2004/2019 14yo [Ob.] Oloroso cask matured [9900 bts] 49.3% WB88[120
- N: [Old-skool] “Macallan-like“, says The Foz, and he’s not wrong. We’ve a subtle cask influence with little-to-no previous cask contents – yay!
- T: A lovely tobacco note occupies my interest the most. Besides this, I savour the subtle savoury-sweet nutty malty husky oaky character. With the previous sherry contents still happily low key. it’s merely the actual oak that makes any noise.
- F: A woody-sweet huskiness, the tobacco continuing to the last.
- C: This will retail for around £60. I’d buy a few.
Scores 87 points
[Springbank] Hazelburn 18yo  Un-Ob sherry wood cask #2000/930 [9900 bottles] abv unknown
Fully matured in an ex-Cadenhead Demerara rum cask.
- N: Oh fruity! Rose water, quince and candy qualities from a cask-supported spirit.
- T: Oh no, it’s the dreaded toe-nail crud! Things improve a little but for me it’s a neutral experience at best. I find it a bit plastic-y too.
- F: Sustaining, promising content at the death.
- C: Once that weird crud note appears on my palate, it’s hard to bounce back. 87 for the nose, overall:
Scores 81 points
Tony rocks up in the nick of time. He’s travelled cross-country in a Capri or was it a vintage Porsche? A car from the 1980’s anyway. He told us it was a very noisy and intense journey.
[Springbank] Hazelburn 21yo  Ob. Festival bottling Refill sherry [222 bts] 46% WB90.17
- N: Lovely and fruity, soft, husky dry sherry malt.
- T: A soft/slightly faded yet also fairly concentrated/recently ‘pumped’ bottling, the result of which is not too shabby. Taste-wise, predominantly toasted husky dry quince < < firm sherry vibes. Thankfully the direct sherry action subsides.
- F: Soft & humming with a waxy silky mouthfeel after a toasted dry huskiness.
- C: Very sherried well-aged whisky and therefore rather tasty. I’m glad I didn’t pounce on a £250 bottle but it is the nicest 21yo sherry Hazelburn I’ve ever had.
Scores 86 points
We have a show of hands for the most popular Hazelburn of the morning. Most popular were numbers 2 and [of course] 3. The soft oloroso number [#4], got only 3 votes whereas the festival bottle received 3/4.
UPDATE: I’ve the correct bottle details now for this 8yo blend.
- C: Back in the courtyard, Drywall Jim is pouring his new purchase. He’s very pleased with it. It’s young, cask-led and very delicious and I provisionally score it 85/86 points accordingly. I run to Cadenhead’s shop to get one. Angus & co. look up as I burst in, out of breath, slightly inebriated and probably quite a picture. It turns out Jim had bought the last bottle of 66! I run back to the courtyard for the next tasting [WLP].