We’re not usually fans of Highland Park, but we’ve heard good things about today’s bottles.
Highland Park 14 year old TWBOS
This first fill American Oak Sherry Puncheon was bottled by the Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland. The bars in this group are: The Ardshiel Hotel Campbeltown, The Bon Accord Glasgow, The Malt Room Inverness, Artisan Restaurant Wishaw, The Highlander Inn Craigellachie, Dornoch Castle Hotel Dornoch and Fiddlers Highland Restaurant Drumnadrochit.
We’re getting roasted chestnuts, burnt wood, overcooked cake batter, whole-wheat cereal and a little angel delight if you search far enough. There’s really not much sweetness here, its very woody and savoury with a touch of smoke.
Undiluted palate has lemon thyme, uncooked cookie dough, maybe even a freshly fried doughnut without the sickly sweet sugar coating. That’s not to say there isn’t sugar here - there’s a fruit salad going on - apples, pears, a little orange, and a touch of brown sugar to bring it together. It has a nice mouthfeel, it’s well integrated with the alcohol and the finish is medium length.
Nose (with water)
Reduced nose has some deep sherry notes coming through, in a really dry sense - cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg toasting in a dry pan over a bonfire. There’s some charred, bitter oak here but the alcohol is clinging to some dried fruit at the end. There’s the tiniest touch of sea salt here too.
Palate (with water)
There’s a sour peach note here, grilled over an open fire - you can really start to get the smoke on the palate now. It’s peppery, but there’s a good amount of sweet refined sugar showing as well. The palate is dried up now, like a sauvignon blanc with a touch of grass and hay. The finish stays at medium length with a sour lemon note at the end.
Surprisingly good. We’re not the biggest Highland Park fans but this definitely falls under our favourite Highland Parks we’ve tried in the last while. It goes from savoury to sweet with the addition of water, and get a little bit of a tang as well, good alcohol integration and a decent finish.
Highland Park Cask Strength Batch 1
Batch one was matured predominantly in sherry seasoned American oak casks of varying ages, with no chill filtering or colouring added.
Vanilla smoke, a little fishy - maybe fish fingers? There’s quite a pronounced ethanol note here too, likely something related to the obscene ABV. There’s some honey here and some lightly toasted hay. There’s an aroma of freshly cracked black pepper as you get your nose deeper into the glass. Accompanying this there’s also a touch of malt and overcooked sponge cake.
Sweet honeysuckle and lime, with freshly baked croissant with strawberry jam and butter. There’s a lovely oiliness that coats the mouth as you sip on it. There’s quite a pronounced spice and smoke here too, with an alcohol punch but nowhere near the 63% that this really is - quite impressive. Maybe some orange and coffee bitterness on the long, drawn out finish.
Nose (with water)
There’s tobacco now, but also a caramel sweetness shining through. It’s like sourdough spent slightly too long in the griddle pan. Some of the sweeter notes seem to have receded and the savouriness and breadiness has come through more. There’s a hint of dried fruits in the background too.
Palate (with water)
Sweet sugar syrup poured over raisins, with chocolate and charred wood. The alcohol is a little more present here, really showing the ethanol and spice that we expected from the 63%. It’s less refined now in our opinion, much spicier although there’s a nice fruitiness and the finish lasts a very long time.
We were concerned about the high ABV initially, but the casks seems to have done wonders to balance the spirit and provide plenty of flavour and sweetness to the whisky. We’re really impressed with the depth of flavour and length of finish, especially when we presume it’s relatively young based on the lack of age statement. We’re looking forward to batch 2 if they can keep this quality up.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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