Tag Archives: Highland Park

Stillhouse at Highland Park

2017 Whisky adventures part 5: The Orkneys and Highland Park

Orkneys day 3

Preparing breakfast in the Kirkwall youth hostel (a cooked full-Scottish one, of course), Jo and I could already see the first destination for our last full day on the Orkneys in the distance: Up on the hill on the other side of Kirkwall, smoke emerged from the pagodas of the Highland Park distillery. Having heard many good stories from delighted visitors, this distillery was high up on my “bucket list” for a long time. Now, as some of you know, I’ve voiced my criticism about Highland Park before, especially concerning a few of the rather expensive and marketing-driven, “collectable” releases of the past years. A distillery almost hidden behind a thick layer of branding, like a veil. Marketing aside, the distillery produces a great distillate and by visiting I was hoping I would get to lift the veil, to see the “real” Highland Park. So, I was excited and ready to have my preconceptions shattered!

My designated driver Jo - with Highland Park in the distance up on the hill

My designated driver Jo – with Highland Park in the distance up on the hill. Selfie courtesy of Jo.

Highland Park distillery

Obligatory picture by the distillery sign

Obligatory picture by the distillery sign

Upon striding through the iron gate bearing the distillery’s name, one can see the immaculate state the distillery is kept in. Impressive stone-wall buildings, flowers everywhere, the place is kept to impress, as is the stylish, dark, themed visitor’s centre. Thanks to an arrangement by Nicola (shout out!) we were set to go on a separate tour, led by Mark, joined by a visiting group of distributors. When you’re trying to get a feel for a place and get as much information as possible for an article, it’s always good to get the extra time for pictures, questions and sticking your nose into places and things. It also helps when the tour is held by a knowledgeable person, which Mark certainly turned out to be!

Our designated guide, Mark

Our designated guide, Mark

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Highland Park Ice Edition 17 yo

Tasting: Highland Park Ice Edition 17 yo

Highland Park Ice Edition 17 yoDram data:
Distillery: Highland Park
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2016
Age: 17 years
Limitation: 30.000(!)
Casks: 1st fill ex-Bourbon
Alcohol: 53,9%
unchillfiltered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

When I wrote a rant about the overhyped, way overpriced, marketing-driven Highland Park Ice last year, I never thought I’d actually get to taste the whisky. I was sure Edrington would never send me a sample after what I wrote and I’d also never shell out that kind of money for what I regard as being 10% whisky and 90% hype. However, when an opportunity presented itself recently to get a “dregs bottle” of it, I had no choice but to take it home with me to find out, whether my statement “Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s a lovely dram”, made in my rant, was in fact correct. Let’s do it!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 gold
The nose is full of ex-bourbon honesty. Quite fresh, I’m sure there’s loads of refill oak in the mix, which accentuates the character of the distillate. Lemon zest, lemon juice, heather, very slight, fragrant peat smoke (heather bonfire?) up front. Once you cut through these initial, light aromas, you get to a slightly beefier core: A hint of flambeed vanilla pudding, smoked peaches and tangerines and a background layer of oak spices. After a few minutes in the glass, these heavier components take over, increasing the complexity.
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Double Barrel Highland Park + Bowmore 10 yo

24 drams till Christmas tasting #22: Double Barrel Highland Park + Bowmore 10 yo

Double Barrel Highland Park + Bowmore 10 yoDram data:
Distillery: Highland Park / Bowmore
Bottler: Douglas Laing
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2009
Age: 10
Limitation: –
Casks: –
Alcohol: 46%
unchillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour: straw
The nose is very light and gentle – quite surprising, to be honest. One would expect greater, bolder things. Light and fragrant peat smoke with burning lavender in the mix, a slight perfume note, vanilla pudding where the cook was very stingy with the sugar and the vanilla, the same cook also overly diluted the honey with sugar water (again, being stingy with the sugar) and had just a pinch of coconut and ripe pineapple left.
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Tasting: Highland Park 1985 / 28y Cadenhead

highland_park_CA_28Dram data:
Distillery: Highland Park
Bottler: Cadenhead
Distilled: 1985
Bottled: 2013
Age: 28 years
Limitation: 242
Price at the time of purchasing: – (official price: about 220€)
Casks: Bourbon Hogshead
Alcohol: 48,3%
Unchillfiltered, no added colouring
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
Straw. On the nose I’m immediately greeted by a warm, sweet load of peat smoke. Continue reading