Hazelwood 21 year 40%

From the Glen Grant & Sons stable, this blend came out a few years ago in travel retail with its glitz bottle, harkening to Art Deco heydays in select cities around the world.

We sampled it completely blind, with no clue what we were trying… Here is what we discovered…

Hazelwood 21 year 40%

  • Nose – Hay, malt, bit sharp, citrus, candy shop, coconut oil, husk, meethi (fenugreek leaves), horseradish, a bit of cinnamon, tobacco, a bit of nuts, wood, acetone, lots of honey
  • Palate – Sweet and spice, more of that horseradish, straight, honey water, no development on the palate, spice remains, thin with no body
  • Finish – Piquant finish, flat, some wood

While it may sound like a nice range of aromas, they all played within a fairly narrow band… overall it came across as quite “watery”… inoffensive and bland. We wondered if it could make a good mixer?

Before the reveal, one speculated it might be a blend. Turns out he was right! More precisely a blend of Kininvie, Girvan, and others…

Curious to know more? Why not check out what I found in an earlier tasting of the Hazelwood 21 year 40%.

What else did we try?

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Hazelwood 21 year 40%

When the Hazelwood series first came out, I couldn’t help but be struck by the rather attractive packaging and decidedly art deco style. A little pricey for a 500 ml bottle, I passed it up a few times at duty free.

From William Grant & Sons, the Hazelwood blended whisky series was created to honour William Grant’s granddaughter Janet Sheed Roberts, after her Hazelwood house, full of art deco items, near their Glenfiddich distillery.

Each in the trio is dedicated to a city from the 1920s:

  • Hazelwood 18 year for Paris
  • Hazelwood 21 year for Bombay
  • Hazelwood 25 year for Shanghai

Fittingly, one fine evening in Mumbai, we polished off the last of the Hazelwood 21 year, in honour of a French friend leaving our fair land for other shores…

hazelwood-21-year

Hazelwood 21 year 40%

  • Nose – Mix of slight tobacco smoke, sweet, vanilla, apple crumble, cinnamon, fruits, berries with an overall sense of freshness
  • Palate – Smooth, soft and accessible, honey, sweet spices
  • Finish – Just a honey sweetness that slipped away relatively early

Overall it is exceedingly easy to drink. Jokingly it was described as quite a ‘homely’ whisky. One could even say ‘charming’. There is a danger in attributing gender to a whisky, but this one certainly seems to be trying to appeal to women.

Here is what they have to say:

House of Hazelwood 21 Year Old is inspired by the sultry beauty of Mumbai in the 1920s.

This release represents a bolder, somewhat spicier and more robust whisky balanced to perfection by the ageing of some of its malts for 21 years in sherry casks made of European oak.

  • NOSE: Dried fruits and spice dominate, alongside a sticky sweetness reminiscent of rich fruit cake. A splash of water alters the balance and adds complexity with a subtle hint of tobacco leaf.
  • TASTE: Cinnamon, cloves and woody spice, with a dry finish. Water accentuates the sherry cask influence, bringing out the sweet oiliness of treacle, dates and polished leather.
  • FINISH: Spice, Molasses, and Resin.

I can’t say that I agree with the “bold” part at all! Or many of the other elements that just didn’t jive with our experience. However in fairness, we sampled from a bottle that was already open so one never knows… it could have been at one time?

20161017-yamazakisipsmithhazelwood

Farewell gifts… and fare thee well my friend!

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The Quandry of the Kininvie 17 year

I’m in a quandary… To open or not to open?

You see… on one of my many trips through Singapore in 2014, I splurged and picked up the Kininvie 17 year, batch 1.

Kininvie is based in the Coeval hills of Dufftown – built on the Balvenie distillery grounds and best known as a component in the rather yummy Monkey Shoulder. While Grant & Sons are well known, having this particular distillery come ‘out’ as Kininvie is relatively recent with just the 17 and 23 year on offer.

Kininvie 17 year

Kininvie 17 year

What do I know so far? Well…

  • 1st batch bottled for travel retail market
  • Matured for 17 years in 80% American Oak, 20% Sherry Cask
  • Strength 42.6%

The official tasting notes suggest:

Nose – Rich and full aroma with fresh fruit notes and a deep vanilla sweetness. Uniquely fragrant with a characteristic floral note that is accentuated through the addition of a little water

Taste – Beautifully sweet, buttery vanilla and slightly spicy

Finish – Long and lingering with a notable sweetness

However those are not the observations of either our monthly whisky tasting club or I…

So… why not just crack open the bottle now and check it out?

Well… you see… This particular bottle is designed to be ‘rare’ and if the initial reviews are any indication, may be worth hanging on to for a bit.

Or perhaps it is just hype.

I have never looked at whisky as an investment or something to ‘save’ for a later day. Instead whisky to me is a sociable affair – something to be savoured, shared and enjoyed with others passionate about such pleasures.

So… what should I do? Open now or save?

To open or not to open...

To open or not to open…

What others are saying about the Kininvie 17 year:

PS I finally did try it thanks to a sample from Whiskyrific! You can read my tasting notes here.

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