It’s pretty rare that I post two reviews in a single day, and I don’t think I ever did that on a Sunday where for half a world it’s a weekend day. But I couldn’t help myself today’s as it’s the 50th birthday of Martin Markvardsen, the Highland Park Senior Brand Ambassador and hands down the best social networks communicative brand ambassador I have ever crossed paths with. So in honor of Martin’s birthday, here’s a review of a tasty and special HP whisky, The Highland Park Hobbister.
Here’s what Highland Park has to say on Hobbister:
Highland Park Hobbister is the first release in the Keystone Series – a collection of special bottlings that highlight our five Keystones of production which combine to make Highland Park stand apart from other Single Malts.
Hobbister takes its name from our peat moor. Lying seven short miles from our distillery, the exposed and barren moor offers little cover from the ferocious winds that frequently batter the island. This environment creates a unique aromatic peat consisting of decaying heather and plants rather than the trees that characterise the peat used by other distilleries.
Highland Park Hobbister (51.4%, 1200 bottles, £75)
Photo credit: whisky-onlineauctions.com
Highland Park has embarked on a new series since October last year. 14 (and counting) single casks were released in the new Single Cask Series (so far), and all of them were directed into very specific markets: shops and airport exclusives and one cask was even bottled for the biggest Highland Park Facebook fan group called Highland Park Appreciation Society (or HPAS as it’s widely known among its members).
I was looking into acquiring a bottle when it got released but getting one was deemed too complicated with no direct shipping route from the shop to me. Thankfully, some HPAS members were sharing their bottles so I managed to get a sample (thanks Peter!).
All those single casks carry age statement of 12 to 14 year old, with prices hovering around 150 (for most of them) and the HPAS single cask is a 13 year old with 576 bottles released from the sherry butt to the faithful members of HPAS, although you can find some bottles on auction sites.
Highland Park 2003 13 Year Old Single Cask #2115 HPAS (59.1%)
Nose: Big dirty sherry HP bomb. Let’s see…there’s peat, gentle smoke, floral & heather flowers, a big sulphur impact with TONS of struck matches and a bit of rubber. dust and a bowl of sweet/sour dried and fresh red berries. Continue reading
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.