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

October 28, 2019


500 HP

Our 500th
Highland Park

Indeed, one of these will be our 500th HP on Whiskyfun, and let’s choose which one right away if you don’t mind, drumroll please… Well, very symbolically, it’s going to be the rather humble, yet very brilliant 10 yo with-a-funny-name!

Highland Park 10 yo ‘Viking Scars’ (40%, OB, +/-2019)

Highland Park 10 yo ‘Viking Scars’ (40%, OB, +/-2019) Five stars
We tried one of last year’s batches and thought it was brilliant (WF 90) despite that very, err, scary name (well done, S.!) I just chose it as one of my ‘coups de coeur’ of WL Paris too, so yeah, any excuses to try a newer batch right now... Colour: gold. Nose: typical, slightly coastal, mineral, waxy, honeyed, fruity and grassy, which makes for a perfect combo, fresh, firm, and pretty pure. No clumsy seasoning here, this is just impeccable, irrefutable, and, well, perfect. Mouth: so very good! Checking my previous notes just now… yeah, honey, lemons, salt, smoked shells, clay, oysters, grapefruits… tastes just a notch bitterer this time, but that may be me. Finish: a little more salt, chalk, lemons… Comments: imagine the very same make, just further matured to 12 ,15 ,18 21, 25, 30, 35, and 40 yo (I’m sure the 35 and the 40 would give us new John-Goodwins!), and with slightly higher voltages… Piece of cake, no?
SGP:552 - 90 points.

Highland Park 16 yo ‘Twisted Tattoo’ (46.7%, OB, 2019)

Highland Park 16 yo ‘Twisted Tattoo’ (46.7%, OB, 2019) Three stars
I don’t quite know why brands seem to feel the need to add names, not just to NAS but also to just any AS bottlings these days. But why not?... Now vorsicht, this one’s seen some red Rioja-seasoned wood, while tempranillo can be pretty pervasive. Now they don’t seem to tell whether it was red or white rioja, but I do suppose it was red indeed … Colour: light gold, not pink at all! Nose: rather cake-y, with some mead and, indeed, some strawberry jam or compote, as well as a little mint. But the treatment remained pretty moderate, we’re far from a Kardashian whisky. Phew! Mouth: red wine and spirit do clash a wee bit – they always do unless the spirit’s virtually empty, which is certainly not the case with HP – but this is acceptable. Some medicinal and chalky notes manage to swim to the surface too, which is nice. Keeps improving in your glass over (quite some) minutes. Finish: medium, perhaps a tad jumbled, but the citric side of HP is having the upper hand in the aftertaste. Comments: very okay. They should try white Rioja next time they would want to go un-fortified Spanish, or perhaps some very sharp albarino?
SGP:461 - 82 points.

Highland Park 12.5 yo (56.7%, OB for Whisky Is The Limit, cask #500146)

Highland Park 12.5 yo (56.7%, OB for Whisky Is The Limit, cask #500146) Four stars and a half
This funny baby was finished in a new firkin. Colour: gold. Nose: some spicy oak at first, mingled with Seville oranges and white pepper, then rather more peat than usual, some ginger, the expected heather honey, and something a tad bourbony, I suppose that comes from the new firkin. Impeccable so far, no off-notes whatsoever. With water: honey, panettone and biscuits. So, civilisation. Mouth (neat): all this crafty modernism goes well on HP; indeed you would almost believe this comes from a new hipster distillery. Ginger, nutmeg, gingerbread, wholegrain bread, pumpernickel, cloves, caraway, brioche and vanilla, then the mineral and slightly salty side of HP. No complains! With water: very good, spicy and indeed, craft. Finish: rather long, on spicy oak, triple-sec and honey. Comments: ever heard of that new craft distillery on Orkney, called Highland Park or something? I see great things in their future.
SGP:651 - 88 points.

What else have we got?...

Highland Park 1996/2019 (52.8%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #Mos19018, 219 bottles)

Highland Park 1996/2019 (52.8%, Malts of Scotland, bourbon hogshead, cask #Mos19018, 219 bottles) Five stars
Colour: straw. Nose: bright, mineral, coastal, refreshing, with some lovely herbal touches, fern, chives, parsley, basil, and a lot of damp chalk and plaster. This is what the people want (how do you like our little dictatorship?) With water: mud, humus, earth. Even nicer! Mouth (neat): perfect. Smoke, lemon, chalk, seaweed, grapefruit, a touch of honeydew, lemongrass, pepper. Does not do much but does it to perfection. With water: almonds and putty – bingo! Finish: long, waxier and even more mineral. Crunching a candle. Some smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: a perfect naked HP that needed no make-up (read sherry). Well done, MoS.
SGP:552 - 90 points.

Highland Park 16 yo 2003/2019 (53.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon barrel, 198 bottles)

Highland Park 16 yo 2003/2019 (53.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon barrel, 198 bottles) Five stars
What could go wrong here? Indeed, a meteorite could hit WF Towers while we’re trying this baby, but other than that… Colour: white wine. Nose: oh, rubber and waxes over some brake fluid and a little vanilla. Paraffin, grapefruit peel, green tobacco and tea… It’s austere and beautiful – but you have to like vertical whiskies! With water: grass and paraffin. Hardly sexy, and yet… Mouth (neat): pristine tangerines and lemons over paraffin and chalk. That’s pretty it but love that style. With water: Bauhaus whisky. We dared because the bottler is German. Finish: long, fantastically waxy and lemony, with the usual salty tang in the aftertaste. Brilliant. Comments: my favourite style, there were even echoes of Old Clynelish in there. And no meteorite, but boy, that was close!
SGP:462 - 91 points.

And now one or two ‘Orkneys’. Not too funny anymore, I have to say…

Orkney 12 yo 2006/2019 ‘Reserve Cask Parcel No.1’ (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, 2019)

Orkney 12 yo 2006/2019 ‘Reserve Cask Parcel No.1’ (46%, The Single Malts of Scotland, 2019) Four stars
A few casks blended away, without much sherry according to the colour. Colour: white wine. Nose: it’s younger and so breadier, yeastier, perhaps also earthier, but some sides remind me of the fantastic 10 yo Viking Scars (what a name). Grist, porridge, lemon, chalk. Mouth: it’s super good. Smoky beer, lemon, salt, muesli, chalk, seaweed, grapefruits… Finish: long, and truly smoky. Smokier than your ‘average’ HP in any case. Comments: have they been making very peaty in 2006? No quibbles, this works.
SGP:464 - 87 points.

A last one, perhaps.

Orkney 14 yo 2004/2019 (58.8%, Artful Dodger, sherry, cask #18)

Orkney 14 yo 2004/2019 (58.8%, Artful Dodger, sherry, cask #18) Four stars
Colour: gold. Nose: but of course. When there’s this little sherry, modern sherried HP can still be great. We’re not talking about the old wonders here. Leather and chalk, chestnut (rather than heather) honey and a little gunpowder, some mint and some liquorice wood, whiffs of fumes… With water: used matches, bandages and mercurochrome, great! ;-). Mouth (neat): very good, with this mentholy side that dominates the leathery sherry. Oranges, honey cake, gingerbread, pepper, nutmeg… With water: leather slightly up, but we’re still cool. Finish: long and more peppery. Big ginger and wasabi in the aftertaste, careful! Quite some peat too. Comments: this one had something rustic, but I did enjoy this slight brutality. Handle water with much care please (hope the anti-alcohol lobbies will never read this). But did they put the peat on eleven around 2004-2006? Only bespoke batches? Who knows, we don’t even officially know about the distillery, mind you.
SGP: 463 - 86 points.

And quickly, a last minute entry…

Orkney 10 yo 2008/2019 (51.8%, Whisky Shop Neumarkt, bourbon, 150 bottles)

Orkney 10 yo 2008/2019 (51.8%, Whisky Shop Neumarkt, bourbon, 150 bottles) Four stars
This one for a very fine whisky shop in Zurich, Switzerland. Hoppla! Colour: white wine. Nose: bready, smoky, coastal, yeasty, with notes of roots, celeriac… This is yet another take, rootier, even more on the raw ingredients. With water: damp oatcakes and brown bread, plus fresh carrots, perhaps. Mouth (neat): I’ll say it again, what a wonderful distillate! We’re pretty close to the new make here, without much maturation and almost no wood influence, but that’s something we like at WF Towers. Bread, roots, lemons, leaven bread, turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, seawater, salsify, pepper… What a wonderful soup! With water: the lemons are arriving. Finish: long, with a lot of sweet barley. Comments: much less peat in these batches, but on the other hand, the barleyness is impeccable. Some remarkable liquid bread.
SGP:452 - 87 points.

We’re really done for now, adios.

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







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