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

May 18, 2021


Yet another barrow of Highland Park.
Or Scapa?

With all these secret Orkneys invading the market, I'm sure the reputation of Scapa will rise without them having anything to do or to spend. That's cool!

Orkney Single Malt 17 yo 2002/2019 (49.1%, Whisky-Fässle, butt)

Orkney Single Malt 17 yo 2002/2019 (49.1%, Whisky-Fässle, butt) Four stars
Another wee duck by the Fässle that, I'm dead sure, won't be a lame one. Colour: gold. Nose: we're not far from the style of most OBs and I'm sure that's the sherry. In this case, it's rather a leafy one, with some cherry tea (stems and leaves) plus this slightly farmy and coastal side. In short, a farmyard near the sea. Also burnt raisin rolls – childhood memories indeed – as well as some paraffin, pencil eraser, and so on. School! Mouth: starts salty and smoky, gets then leafy and a little tea-ish, with once again this combination of farmy and coastal notes. I find a little rough, but that's pretty pleasant. Another one for the hipflask? Finish: rather long, with a little salted caramel and a few resinous notes. Grass. Retsina? The aftertaste is rather dry and leafy. Comments: get your hipflask ready! The one with the skull and bones and that funny Harley-Davidson logo.
SGP:362 - 85 points.

Secret Orkney 16 yo 2003/2019 (52.2%, The Whisky Mercenary)

Secret Orkney 16 yo 2003/2019 (52.2%, The Whisky Mercenary) Five stars
This little mercenary on the label seems to be drinking his HP from the skull of one of his enemies. Which gives me a few ideas I have to say… Colour: white wine. Nose: it is a full-mineral, crystal-clean fresh HP, on lamp oil, grass, lime juice, sourdough and granny smith. With a nod to Clynelish down in the south. With water: never have I found this much linseed oil in any malt whisky. A lot of raw wool too. Mouth (neat): terrific lime-y arrival, fat and mineral, tart, full-bodied and superbly waxy. Goes on with a salty smokiness. With water: fabtastic waxy, mineral, salty and lemony development. This is perfect. Finish: rather long and saltier yet. Comments: another gift to mankind, we can only meditate. Scores would further rise after a few more years in a well-stored bottle. For example, a well-stored bottle is a bottle that's located in my own cellar (S., please!)
SGP:463 - 90 points.

An Orkney Distillery 14 yo 2006/2020 (60.9%, Watt Whisky, ruby Port barrique 'rested', 307 bottles)

An Orkney Distillery 14 yo 2006/2020 (60.9%, Watt Whisky, ruby Port barrique 'rested', 307 bottles) Three stars
With 'rested', the very honourable bottlers mean that the malt had spent the first few months of its life in Port, before it was transferred to a better civilised cask. Reversed finishing, in a way. Now, it remained pretty pink, which is intriguing… Colour: pretty pink. Nose: wee touches of blackcurrant bud at first, perhaps geranium (flowers, not leaves thank God), then the expected Highlandparky development, with some sea salt, beach sand, honey sauce, grapefruits, earth, fresh almonds… All rather good things. With water: it wouldn't change much. Mouth (neat): not bad at all but the Port has been extremely resilient in here. Which made this baby grape-y and a little salty/sour. Some kind of little-known Chinese sauce for Dim-Sum, would I say. With water: but how much ruby Port was there in this barrique in the first place? I'm sure no one knows, but the amounts of red and black fruits are rather huge here, while those, in my humble opinion, wouldn't tango too well with the biggish distillate. Now don't get me wrong, this is no Frankenstein whisky either, it's just, well, something else. Finish: rather long, rather better now. Some cherry juice with a little salt and a little green pepper, all the rest being 'HP'. Comments: sure this is a winesky, but it does go down without hassle. It's just not my preferred style.
SGP:652 - 82 points.

More 2006…

An Orkney Distillery 14 yo 2006/2020 (60.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland for USA, cask #45, 303 bottles)

An Orkney Distillery 14 yo 2006/2020 (60.4%, The Single Malts of Scotland for USA, cask #45, 303 bottles) Four stars and a half
High strength alert! Colour: white wine. Nose: what should I say? Sunflower oil, limoncello, damp clay, sandwich bread, chalk, smoke, beach sand, roasted peanuts, paraffin… Once again, we shan't file a complaint here. Also whiffs of fresh dry Alsatian muscat – I swear I'm not dreaming. Please pass the white asparagus! With water: gets cloudy as milk! And this viscimetry in action… Chalk, Woolite, crumb, sourdough, a touch of gherkin brine, not unseen in clean HPs… Mouth (neat): as often, the very high alcohol makes it sweetish, almost bonbony, all that with a very thick body. Marshmallow vodka. With water: it's funny that I would find white asparagus (no muscat though), chalk, lemon, a lot of fresh bread, some salt, oysters, a little lemon oil, even weissbeer, and all that jazz that we enjoy so much. Finish: long, tense, vertical, really rather salty, with an aftertaste on some kind of salty and smoked grapefruit liqueur. Comments: sure you'll need your best pipette, but then it'll deliver. Just excellent.
SGP:562 - 88 points.

Good, after those excellent Scapas (!) let's have a proper HP. I'm even wondering if this won't be the oldest HP I've ever tasted… Ah, no, there was that official 50 1960/2010. Anyway…

Highland Park 45 yo 1975/2021 (46.6%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions Authors Series for Taiwan, refill hogshead, 24 bottles)

Highland Park 45 yo 1975/2021 (46.6%, Hunter Laing, The First Editions Authors Series for Taiwan, refill hogshead, 24 bottles) Five stars
Sweet Jesus Mary and Joseph, a forty-five years old Highland Park, they don't exactly give these away with coupons, do they. I'm not sure the very narrow outturn would suggest this is only a chunk of the content of the cask, of if, as they used to say in brochures (bring-them-back!), the angels have been very greedy. But let's try this baby, with due deference… Colour: gold. Nose: it went to the piney and waxy side, with whiffs of fresh paint and putty, pressed apples, gueuze beer, then we have some pollen, some very old Sauternes that aged well – they usually do – some furniture polish, beeswax, drawing gum, this resinous substance that bees tend to harvest (propolis), then elements from a forest, moss, mushrooms, fern, woodruff, old tree stump… This is just perfect, exactly fit, very complex, with a side that reminds me of that very legendary bottling they did at the owners', the 1962 'John Goodwin'. Mouth: something strange is happening, I believe I could almost copy-and-paste what I said about the nose. Which is rather miraculous, as these very old malts, even when the noses are brilliant, tend to become a little too resinous and drying on your palate. Which is absolutely not the case here. Let's just add some peach syrup with a dollop of old yellow Chartreuse, as well as Crème de menthe and liqueur de sapin des Vosges (a thing we have over here). Finish: indeed, it'll lose one or two points at the finish, which is totally normal at this ripe old age. A bright finish in a 45 yo whisky would not be human (what?) A salty, metallic, bouillony touch and, well, a little mead and cardboard. Nothing abnormal indeed. Comments: this one reminds us that the true equation remains Malt-Whisky = Barley x Yeast x Water x Oak x Time.
SGP:562 - 92 points.

I can't see how we could 'climb over' that 45. Ciao (with apologies to the very fine Scapa people).

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