Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New releases ... Hazelburn CV

the campbeltown cv packHazelburn CV forms part of a new series of whiskies for 2010 from the cult Springbank distillery. Springbank is located in the town of Campbeltown, which is found on a narrow peninsula on the west Highland coast of Scotland.The distillery is unique in the fact that it regularly produces three different single malts on the same site - Springbank, Longrow and Hazelburn - and each has its own definitive style. Springbank is lightly smoky, Longrow is very smoky and Hazelburn is not smoky at all but is distilled three times (compared to twice, which is the Scottish norm).

Hazelburn whisky was first distilled at Springbank in 1997, with the first release in 2005 as an 8 year old single malt. It is distilled three times and is one of the only Scottish whiskies to experience a full third distillation. Only a limited number of bottles are released each year. Hazelburn is available as an 8 year old (now on its 4th release), a 12 years old which was first released in August 2009 and now this CV version. Hazelburn is named after one of the long defunct Campbeltown distilleries, as is Longrow.

J & A Mitchell, the owners of Springbank, have decided to add Hazelburn and Springbank CV to the already existing Longrow CV, that was first released about two years ago. The CV stands for 'Curriculum Vitae' and the whiskies are created using single malts of varying ages from each expression. At this moment, they are only available in a pack which contains one 20cl bottle of each expression. This is on sale as the 'Campbeltown CV pack' for about £35 and all are bottled at 46% ABV. The news is that full 70cl bottles of the Springbank CV will be available very soon in late January, with the 70cl bottles of the Hazelburn CV coming later in March/April 2010 depending on stock levels. Prices are as yet unavailable.

The Hazelburn CV (pictured above, in the centre) has a light golden, almost straw-like colour. The nose is aromatic and clean with a lovely initial hit of fresh green fruit (imagine a pear or apple). Following this comes a tempting mix of sweet vanilla, malty cereal grains, honey and something floral (think of honeysuckle). The nose does exactly what it should and make you want to taste the whisky immediately! On the palate, this does not disappoint - it is again clean and fresh and slightly fuller bodied than the nose suggested. It feels creamy with the honey as the prominent note, backed up by the sweet vanilla, malty cereals, a hint of honeysuckle and green fruits from the nose. The whisky becomes sweeter with the addition of a dash of water, with the green fruits particularly coming out and getting more exaggerated (think of peardrop sweets). The finish is reasonably long, pure and refreshing, combining all the elements before fading away. The honeyed and vanilla notes are lovely.

Hazelburn CV is the first great whisky of 2010 (OK, it was released just before Christmas but who is counting?). The whisky is fantastically fresh and is softer and more balanced than the previous Hazelburn releases that we have sampled (these have been heavily influenced by the sherry cask maturation that they have undergone and while being of good quality and enjoyable to drink, the subtly of the whisky is in danger of being lost). It is similar to some Lowland whiskies, that are light, clean and floral in style. Let's hope that J & A Mitchell find enough stock to give this whisky a deserved full release!

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