Google A few H. P.

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

August 19, 2019


A few H…. P….

We could have a few Highland Parks, don’t you think? Well, theoretical HPs, as more and more indies seem to have to use other names, such as ‘A Secret Orkney That Starts With An H And Not With An S’. And since I doubt Scapa’s owners would disagree with anyone using their name, well…

Kirkwall Bay (46%, Morrison & MacKay, +/-2019)

Kirkwall Bay (46%, Morrison & MacKay, +/-2019) Four stars and a half
This is well a single malt. Some age or vintage statements would have been welcome, but there. Even a proud 8, or a 7, or a 6. Perhaps not a 5. Colour: very pale white wine (perhaps 5 indeed). Nose: the thing is, HP is a perfect distillate when no one starts to try to flavour it. Fantastic notes of limestone, aspirin tablets, green lemons, and sauvignon blanc. Simple and very all right. Mouth: I so much love this distillate, even if it’s bizarrely sweet (ish) here. I know some good folks have been shocked because I gave some very high score to the distillery’s latest – and pretty humble – 10 yo, but that’s because it’s the closest you could get to the make’s purity. Same here, while we’re also finding notes of roasted pecans that, who would have imagined that, go extremely well with the salty, mineral and lemony profile. Finish: medium, perfect. Great smoke, chalk, barley syrup… Comments: bang-for-you-buck. Stock up before Brexit! Oh and it seems that they raised the peat levels – unless the bottlers have used that dirty trick which consists in using ex-Laphroaig barrels to do finishings (just an example, eh).
SGP:454 - 89 points.

Orkney 12 yo 2007/2019 (55.5%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead, 370 bottles)

Orkney 12 yo 2007/2019 (55.5%, North Star Spirits, bourbon hogshead, 370 bottles) Five stars
I think Angus tried this one before, but Angus is Angus (wow, S.!) Colour: white wine. Nose: less smoke in this one, rather a briny and acidic nose at first (lemon juice), then a very chalky development, with also some fresh bread and whiffs of beach sand at low tide. Angus wrote some longer note, check it! With water: wet wool, sourdough, flour and all that. After all, this is barley eau-de-vie. Mouth (neat): tight and punchy, once again close to the original distillate, with just hints of coffee, bone dry chenin, and just bags and bags of chalk mixed in/with lemon juice. Shakes your spine, and that’s good. With water: oh how good is this? It’s got some best-mezcal quality that I couldn’t possibly refute. Finish: long, brilliant. Comments: love it, j’aime ça, ich liebe es, quiero mucho this, mi piacere a lot… And psst, were I the distillery, I would be proud to have my name on such as whisky. Just saying.
SGP:563 - 90 points.

The Secret Orkney 2005/2017 (57.5%, Spirit & Cask Range, cask #21, 370 bottles)

The Secret Orkney 2005/2017 (57.5%, Spirit & Cask Range, cask #21, 370 bottles) Four stars and a half
Colour: straw. Nose: a tad more jumbled, a tad less pristinely vertical, and with notes of lemon syrup that add a wee clumsiness to this proposition. Other than that, it’s perfect. With water: a little mint that adds a pleasant freshness, as well as the expected doughs and porridge and poor man’s muesli (less fruit, more cereals). Mouth (neat): no, seriously, this is a rather superb distillate, with just the right amount of cask influence (that is to say very little, ha-ha) that translates into a wee coffee-ishness. With water: I hate to say that this is another great one. What a spirit! Finish: perfect Comments: obviously, a great spirit with no name is better than a lousy one in full disclosure. Having said that, as we’ve said before, ‘Secret Orkney’ tells it all anyway.
SGP:462 - 88 points.


Secret Orkney 16 yo 2002/2018 (55.5%, Cask & Thistle, SCSM China, 360 bottles)

Secret Orkney 16 yo 2002/2018 (55.5%, Cask & Thistle, SCSM China, 360 bottles) Five stars
More secrets, but probably no lies. Lies are about to kill whole categories as far as beverages are concerned, but Scotch is safe unless they get more liberal after Brexit (S., give us a break with Brexit, please). Having said that, I’m glad this is no calvados cask. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s rather fascinating to check that, as we go back in time, the smokiness decreases while the breadiness increases. Not obligatory a bad thing, both clusters being fantastic when balance was found. What’s more, the lemons are always here to help, while this distillate seems to be a little fruitier as well. Hints of strawberries? With water: bicycle inner tubes! There was a little more rubber as well back then, and that is not the sherry. Mouth (neat): just fantastic. No wood in the way, just a perfect, pristine, crystal-clean lemony and mineral spirit. Love the notes of tinned sardines, not to mention the obligatory kippers. With water: by Jove! Finish: long, as salty as Bowmore. Lemons. Comments: I’m sure the great helmsman would have loved this. What unnecessary remark?
SGP:562 - 90 points.

Yeah, who needs a brand name anyway… We’re approaching the end of brands anyway, are we not?

Orkney 15 yo 2002/2019 (56.8%, Berry Bros & Rudd for The whisky Barrel, sherry butt, cask #3, 180 bottles)

Orkney 15 yo 2002/2019 (56.8%, Berry Bros & Rudd for The whisky Barrel, sherry butt, cask #3, 180 bottles) Three stars and a half
Oh, a sherry butt, well that’s okay. Given this low outturn, I suppose some shares of the cask are enjoying a stroll elsewhere. Colour: gold. Nose: these wee hints of used matches at first, whiffs of bicycle inner tubes as well, some kind of chalky ginger, artisanal kirsch… It’s fine, really, but the other ones just crush it because of their amazing purity. With water: I’ll say it, there is a little sulphur. Mouth (neat): fine, but the game here is just to check if the sherry did not wreck the spirit too much. How could any ‘active’ cask improve a great distillate? The answer in this case would be ‘this is very okay, we’re safe, phew’. Salty chocolate and old walnuts roasted in honey and oils. We’ve tasted worse. With water: fine. Oranges, pepper, ginger, lemon, walnut skins. Finish: rather long, herbal, bitterer. Some salt in the aftertaste. Comments: I have to apologise, I should not have had this sherried expression after the bright, tense and luminous ‘refilled’ ones. Rondo Veneziano after Karl Böhm (!) I think HP got much bigger over the years, hence more adverse to ‘flavouring’, with exceptions. But I love the fact that we now have this magical ‘mineral rectangle’, Clynelish – Springbank – Ben Nevis – Highland Park. I agree, hardly a rectangle.
SGP:452 - 83 points.

We’ll have two or three ‘disclosed’ HPs tomorrow, let’s hope they’ll be as good as the undisclosed ones.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all HPs we've tasted so far







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