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Springbank, Hazelburn and Campeltown
Hazelburn is a triple distilled single malt produced at the Springbank distillery in Campbeltown. Once viewed as the Victorian Whisky Capital of the world, this small town on the Kintyre peninsula has been home to more than thirty distilleries over the years, though today all but three are lost to the mists of time.
Arguably the most successful of the town’s three remaining distilleries is Springbank. Founded in 1828, this family-owned distillery currently produces three distinct varieties of single malt. 80% of the liquid distilled goes towards the main Springbank range, whilst the remaining 20% is split between two very different brands. The first, Longrow, is a double distilled, heavily peated single malt whilst Hazelburn is made from unpeated barley and is one of the few malts in Scotland to be triple distilled, a process more commonly associated with the whiskey of Ireland.
Longrow is the main street which runs through the heart of Campbeltown, though it was also the name of one of the town’s lost distilleries. Established in 1824, Longrow was in production until 1896, though even today some of the distillery warehouses are still being used by Springbank. A year after the creation of the Longrow distillery, another plant sprung up nearby. Hazelburn became so successful, however, the owners were forced to relocate in 1836 to another site on Millknowe Road to allow for the expansion of their production capabilities.
The result of a partnership between Daniel Greenlees, his brother Matthew and Archie Collvill, Hazelburn would become the biggest distillery in the area, with a maximum capacity of 250,000 gallons and space in nine warehouses for 500,000 gallons worth of ageing whisky.
Come the early 1900s, the industry had changed drastically and by the conclusion of the First World War, Campbeltown’s distillers were almost universally struggling. The Greenlees sold to Mackie & Co, owner of White Horse, in 1920 but sadly, the distillery’s fortunes failed to improve under new ownership and production ceased in 1925.
Hazelburn was later absorbed by a DCL takeover of White Horse but the fire would never return to the stills. By the early ’80s, another industry downturn forced Diageo to tighten their belts and close unwanted distilleries for good. Hazelburn’s warehouses had been in continuous use but the site was deemed surplus to requirements and eventually torn down in 1996. What remains today is used to house the Campbeltown Learning Centre, though the distillery name at least, lives on through the triple distilled malt produced at Springbank.
Springbank’s creative team began to experiment with triple distillation back in 1997, bottling the first such single malt in 2005. Today, the standard release is 10 years old and is bottled, as per company policy, un-chill-filtered and natural colour at a strength of 46%.
Smell: Grassy and Herbal. Plain Scones and Honey, Apple and Pear, Lemon and Lime and Digestive Biscuits.
Taste: Touch of Pepper, Pear, Vanilla, Honey and Toffee, Butter Pastry. Silky mouthfeel on the palate.
Thoughts: Hazelburn is probably the least talked about of all Springbank’s malts but that doesn’t mean it is of inferior quality. Indeed, it easily maintains the high standards that connoisseurs have come to expect from Springbank and at less than £40 per bottle, offers great value for money.
A great example of what can be achieved with a little experimentation, Hazelburn successfully shows a lighter side to Springbank without any compromise in flavour. This is one of Scotland’s very finest distilleries doing what it does best, producing and selling exceptional whisky at sensible prices.
*If the whisky reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.