There’s a flurry of activity with Highland Park distillery in the last few months. It’s like they are the hyperactive kid in the playground – too many single casks to different markets, stores or occasions, rebranding the core 12/18 year old whiskies with a new labels and viking theme, new expressions (Valkyrie and Magnus) but the dust didn’t settle down yet as there’s another new Highland Park whisky coming – Highland Park Full Volume according to the new label that popped up in the TTB Database.
This time we have age statement – it’s a 17-18 Year Old whisky, and from the short tasting notes it seems like no (or very little) sherry casks were harmed making this whisky. Is it a core line expression or a limited edition? Will it be a USA exclusive or will we see it out in a global release? What does it means it’s Full Volume – is it cask strength whisky (the ABV is not too high)? stay tuned.
Looks like Highland Park founding father is making a cameo. Highland Park is gearing up to release a new NAS expression in their official line up named Highland Park Magnus. It’s promised to be apologetically bold, smoky and undeniably Orcadian. Too bad it looks like it will be bottled at 40%
After the pretty good Laphroaig Brodir Batch 001, let’s go for a review of another whisky in port casks – Highland Park Fire Edition.
It’s the first Highland Park in Port casks that I have ever encountered so I went ahead and purchased myself a sample because I’m a whisky geek and it interests me to see what Highland Park in Port will smell and taste like because I wouldn’t shell out such a big sum of money on a whisky with one big glaring question: What are those Refill Port-Seasoned Casks that the whisky matured in them (and quite a lot of those to produce 28000 bottles)?
So what impact those casks had on the whisky?
Highland Park Fire Edition (45.2%, £190/€224.95)
Nose: Hmm, the initial sniff isn’t promising, huge notes of youth, almost new make-y. Is it 15 yo? Really? Must be the cask impact and the strong vanilla note that distorts it. After a while it recedes enough to reveal red fruit leaning to the sour side, redcurrants and a bit of strawberries, also a bit of citrus , heather honey and vanilla and some microscopic peat smoke traces. Very light and very un-Highland Park like and I didn’t like it at all. Continue reading
Official bottlings from Highland Park usually carry a trademarked profile of heather peat, spice and sherry notes to some degree, depends on the exact mix of casks in the release. But when you go the indie and single cask route it’s a different game.
Take for example the new Highland Park 16 that G&M has bottled exclusively for The Whisky Exchange. A single cask bottling from a first fill American oak barrel with a lot of sweetness and not a single trace of sherry, delivering a whisky with a twist on the familiar Highland Park profile.
Highland Park 1999 16 Year Old Cask #4260 (56.6%, £79.95)
Nose: Fruity (mainly pears) and very creamy with sweet vanilla and honey. Slowly some hints of spices show up and there’s almost no peat here. I guess it’s subdued by active cask. Very rounded and solid nose. With a few drops of water we get fresh lemon and it’s spicier yet still very creamy and a lot of vanilla (almost lactic feeling). Continue reading
Captain Log, Day 5: After I managed to scrape off 20 points yesterday for correct region, I hope to build upon it and maybe even have a successful day with a high score. This dram felt like a high proof young dram, but the region and distillery alluded me. I was torn between three optoins: a SMWS bottling from a Speyside distillery, a young Bladnoch from The whisky broker or maybe some weird Islands bottling (Arran or HP). Eventually I went for the Lowlands route. Not sure if it was the smart decision.
Update: Ugh 😦 I was so far off the mark and even high ABV guess was off and so, another zero pointer. I just can’t stop shaking my head at this weird dram. A 22 yo Highland Park that was distilled in 1992 and bottled December 2014 – it didn’t feel like a Highland park at all nor a sherry cask.
Cadenhead Highland Park 22 Year Old Sherry Cask (59.6%, 234 bottles, ~€173)
Nose: Freshly cut grass, sweet honey with sour edge, nutty, white pepper, limestone and chalk. with time: flowers and perfume, red fruit, stronger limestone/chalk. With water: fruitier, a lot of citrus and a tad more perfume.
The second day in this Scotland excursion wasn’t like the first day at all. We weren’t late and it had a very Scottish weather, gray and rainy just like what I wanted, although all the natives were longing for another day like yesterday full of sunshine. But we were going to Orkney and visit the northernmost distilleries in Scotland so IMHO it was the fitting weather 🙂
After the sea cross, a bus to Kirkwall, visiting the Orkney museum (A must!), our ride arrived:
Yes, if you booked a high-end tour, they will happily pick you up from different places around Kirkwall and bring you to the distillery just in time for the tour.
I was told yesterday that I don’t have enough Highland park reviews on the site. I took a look and found out that’s correct – except the recently released Dark Origins there are no reviews of the Highland Park core range (unless you call Einer a core range expression…)
There are also other distilleries which are under-reviewed on the blog (and I hope to fix that sooner than later) but first thing first, lets have another Highland Park official bottling review and we’ll aim high with Highland Park 30.
Highland Park 30 was at the top of HP core range until the 40yo was released and there are at least two batches released: the latest one was released in 2013 and is bottled at 45.7% (you can get it at The Whisky Exchange for £385) and the earlier batches who were bottled at 48.1% (still available at the distillery online shop) which I review here thanks to a sample sent to me from Johnnie Stumbler of The Nosing Arse blog.
Highland Park 30 (48.1%, £400)