In 2011, William Grant & Sons released a first expression under the Hazelwood brand called Janet Sheet Roberts 110th Birthday Edition in 2011 (that’s a mouthful!), after William Grant’s granddaughter name. Mrs Roberts died in 2012 as the oldest woman in Scotland, aged 110 as the name of the first release suggested. Four years later in 2015, William Grant & Sons announced a new trio of whiskies under the House of Hazelwood brand, three blends aged 18, 21 and 25 years old, to be released first in the travel market early 2016 before general availability.
These whiskies’ names take after the home of Mrs Roberts, located not far Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown, while their packaging is said to be inspired by the three cities at the “forefront of the 1920s Art Deco movement in her heyday”, Paris, Mumbai and Shanghai. I’ll let you the judge of that, I honestly have no idea. The box of the 18yo takes its insipration from the Parisian Art Deco period, while the 21yo takes after Mumbai in the 1920s and the 25yo, you guessed it, is inspired by Shanghai. But enough with the PR, let’s get to the dram.
House of Hazelwood 18yo Review
This blended whisky contains grain whisky from Girvan distillery and malt whisky from Kininvie, both distilleries owned by William Grant & Sons, and “liquid from the family’s private collection”. Yes, that last part doesn’t help much. All the liquids have been married in tuns made of Portuguese oak before being bottled in, beautiful I’ll admit, 50cl bottles at a poor 40% abv. It is unfortunately coloured and probably chill-filtered. You can buy it from The Whisky Exchange for about £65 or in France from La Maison du Whisky for 69€.
The Girvan grain is really noticeable, vanilla, a bit of solvent, lemon, very light wood note, but not much else. Maybe maple syrup after a good moment in the glass.
Sweet and a bit thin but still creamy arrival, though still thicker than what you would usually expect from a 40% abv blend. The sweetness moves to a bit of spices with mostly pepper, clove and liquorice sweets. Dark chocolate then brings a bit more texture, with an old oak note.
Dark chocolate and pepper, medium length.
I was initially expecting a lot more from this whisky. To be honest, I didn’t know much about it when I bought it on auction for cheap and to reduce the cost of shipping “per bottle” of the rest of my haul, but I expected more complexity. Now that I know the components, I’m not that surprised. I’ve tasted the Kininvie 23yo single malt, bottled in very small 350ml bottles in a big box for a crazy price (more than £100!) and it was really bland and disappointing. So I’m really not surprised this blend is also quite bland, it’s not the one that will move your heart and on which you’ll spend hours. But as something to sip without thinking while reading a good book, sure, it’ll do a nice work. And the bottle is going to become a beautiful infinity bottle!