Dram Review: Highland Park 14 Years Old Hand Selected for Mjølner

[56.5%・14 Years Old・Bottled in 2019・Official Bottling・Limited Release of 1,731 Bottles]

Nose:

A bit brute and heavy, ain’t it? Gunpowder and simmering caramelisation of dates and figs, red apple infused honey being hammered by wood spices as a proper peat smoke presence continues to build.

Palate & Finish:

Warming delivery of red apples and burnt honey as a really rather aggressive peat smoke rumble along, bringing through also a bold splash of spices and afterwards a solid toffee fudge sweetness.

Spicy still in the finish with cinnamon sugar and wee smoke.

Thoughts:

Rustic and aggressive with a sweet lick, if you have been to Mjølner you would probably agree that this whisky is entirely on point.

Definitely one for us Australian folks..

[Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary Highland Park 1991 Aged 27 Years

Style: Sherry, Malty and Complex

Nose:

Begins with a classic sherry dunnage signature – Heavy sherry carrying a dusky-musky tone. A match was struck somewhere afar, strawberry jam with light raspberry cream on top, dedemara sugar, salty toffee shrouded by a musky fragrance, while smoke rolling under. Floral notes diffuse in and elevate the weight of the sluggish red fruits, the sherry gradually finds its acidic edge, sour plums, mashed berries combine the spice to hit a high tone towards the end.

Palate:

The Sherry dunnage theme continues, the sherry is re-tuned and become more expressive on the palate. Crystallised plums and red fruits fizzled with peppermint soda, sooty peat, hmmm, there is a certain “dirtiness” to it, a little bit like Ledaig. The dusty-muskiness slowly developing into some form of umami here. Mushrooms and kelp aligning with strawberry pop tarts… Weird, isn’t it? But somehow it works. Almond-malt kicks in at the back, the floral tone comes in again to give another lifting touch to it.

Finish:

Strawberry eclairs showing more creaminess and red fruits more clarity. A touch of tobacco smoke lingering till the end, yum yum.

Thoughts:

Wow, what a bold, complex, heavily sherried Highland Park, less than three weeks and I have already drunk half of it… Well, it is that good, really. Under the gigantic sherry shell lies numerous dimensions – whether it be the malt, peat, distillate or the cask, all have formed distinctive characters which makes you feel there is so much happening at micro-level, but somehow, each of finds its place to accommodate one another in this expression and whip up such a spell-binding expression. Top, top dram. Very close to three stars.

☆☆[Highly Recommended]

[52% | Independent Bottling | Single Cask | 266 of 545 Bottles | Cask Number: 15086 | 1991 Distilled | 2018 Bottled | Matured in a Sherry Butt | **+]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Signatory Vintage 30th Anniversary Highland Park 1988 Aged 30 Years

Style: Sweet, Delicate and Complex

Nose:

Menthol spearhead, heather honey flowing in beautifully. Floral confectioneries, a light vanilla brush over the malt. Gentle fragrance and peppermint brimming nicely with peat purring softly. White pepper dust, nutmeg and even a touch of chai. Delicate and complex, amazing aroma.

Palate:

More delicate floral sweetness continues to roll in, followed by some lightly baked apricots, green apples, oat, honey wax, fresh-cut grass with a lavender (not soapy) overtone. Meanwhile there is a loose maritime peat underlayer lingering. Heading towards the back, We have some white pepper carefully sprinkled around the tannins, a mini-burst of tropical fruits, vanilla cream, barley gradually emerges, cloves with just a touch of soot to finish.

Finish:

Fruits compote, one final brush of vanilla, a nice honeyed finish.

Thoughts:

Another Highland Park at its top form, all the elements – floral notes, malt, smoke and fruits – are softened, levitated and delicately woven together. Such a classic, beautifully-matured, distillate-driven expression. Although I wish the cask can be a tad stronger to round off the expression, but well, perfection doesn’t come everyday. What an exceptional dram.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[49.7% | Independent Bottling | 1988 Distilled | 2018 Bottled | Single Cask | Cask Strength | Cask Number: 755 | Bottle number: 176 of 220 | Matured in a Hogshead | **+]

-Esmond

Dram Review: Highland Park Valknut

[46.8%・NAS・Bottled in 2018・Official Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Some gritty notes of barley husk to go with vanilla and custard, a lemony note signifying the presence of some distant diluted fortified. A vague smoke adding to the generic profile.

Palate & Finish:

At 46.8%, the dram conveys a decent thickness with its sweet, jammy nature. Baked walnuts drenched in maple syrup at first followed by a spicy punch of cinnamon and chocolate dust with the cigarette smoke dragging the oak and peat on.

Thoughts:

Mostly consist of younger casks I suspect but vatted together this carries a somewhat respectable mouthfeel with oomph.

✓ [Recommended if you like the distillery/style]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Ferraretto Highland Park

[43.0%・NAS・Bottled Circa 1980s・Ferraretto Bottling・Limited Release]

Nose:

Raisins and cherry syrup, red apple nectar and honey with nougat. Impressively soft, with just a subtle hint of grassy peat.

Palate & Finish:

There is this overly sweet dark honey that coats the ripe fruits. A soft but elongated follow through with the white peaches.

The fruitiness disperses slowly into the background..

Thoughts:

Such soft handle, the Italian special.

[Recommended]

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Highland Park Vintage 1973 Cask Number 11151

[45.4%・27 Years Old・Distilled in 1973・Bottled in 2001・Official Bottling・Cask No. 11151・Single Cask Release of 500 Bottles]

Nose:

Proudly Sherried, quite leathery with the prunes lifting the acidity; sugared cream, milk chocolate and honey baked leg ham all in the background alongside cinnamon sugar and cardamom as there is a vague suggestion of peat blocks being lit up from a distance.

Palate & Finish:

Poached fruits and chocolate dust lead a merrily Sherried charge on a fairly creamy body. Spicy cinnamon goes with some wee peat as the charred oak turns the dram somewhat leathery and tannic and dries out the surroundings.

The vegetal and earthy notes continue into the finish, with some hints of cherries and chocolate dust coated almonds.

Thoughts:

Both 11151 and 11167 are close to scoring two stars. The 11151 is heavier Sherried than its sister cask and more tannic and earthy naturally. A nicely done integration of peat smoke into the dram.

☆ [Recommended]

Thank you Minami San, Nakada San and Tachibana San for a great evening and thank you for the dram.

-Nicholas

Dram Review: Highland Park Vintage 1973 Cask Number 11167

[50.4%・27 Years Old・Distilled in 1973・Bottled in 2001・Official Bottling・Single Cask Release of 524 Bottles]

Nose:

Rounded, expressive and leans on the confectionary style, the dram carries an old school oily body. Cream Sherry and sweet toffee joined by roasted malt. Honey and wax with jammy orchard fruits with slight inferences of some vegetal notes and Japanese fish essence.

Palate & Finish:

Bright creamy Sherry and honey with a waxy note that coats to the tongue, dry ginger nibs giving a tingling sensation as heather and honey soothes the palate. The peat is disguised amongst ripe fruits with a hint of orange liquor on the backend.

Lingering and fruity finish, some tropical fruits like orange slices and pineapples sip to the surface, deliciously creamy with some polite Sherry cask tannins to close.

Thoughts:

Not so much a big Sherry cask especially when compared to its sister cask but there’s a certain earnestness in being mild, especially when the dram is this nice.

☆ [Recommended]

Thank you Minami San, Nakada San and Tachibana San for a great evening and thank you for the dram.

-Nicholas

Whisky Review: Highland Park Loki Aged 15 Years

Style: Sweet and Complex

Nose:

Soothing, aromatic notes of fresh apples, honeydew and apricots, heather honey dripping lightly onto pine cones. Red fruits, a delicate but vibrant floral core builds up with a gentle, smoky kiss. Mmmm, all the signs of a good Highland Park… Lemon peel and peppermint edges, which is rounded off with stewed tropical fruits and marzipan, mineral and maritime signatures to give an extra depth. Very nice.

Palate:

What a lustrous and silky entrance, honeyed stone fruits, citrus, lavender and tobacco leaves knitting nicely together. More heather honey, tropical fruits sitting on top of molten dark-milk chocolate. Pine and green herbs honing the spicy edge, then we have wood shavings, malt biscuits all underlined with a coastal, tarry peat.

Finish:

The tone sinks deeper – chocolate milkshake, Mocha, McVitie’s, more tobacco leaves and finish with subtle hints of tropical fruits.

Thoughts:

Wow, what a dram, it has been a while but I am still impressed by the magnitude of this whisky. Effortless texture, vibrant vibe and immensely complex, all arranged in such a harmonic and coherent way. Excellent stuff, certainly the best of the Valhalla series by a mile.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

[48.7% / Original Bottle / Limited Edition / 2013 Bottled / Non Chill Filtered / **]

-Esmond

Whisky Review: Highland Park Freya Aged 15 Years

Style: Green Fruits, Oaky and Spicy

Nose:

Peppermint arrowhead stringing a thin thread of lemon honey heather behind. Raw but reasonably fragrant tropical fruits, followed by an unexpected blot of sooty peat. Once it opens up pineapple panna cotta gently dusted with icing sugar comes in focus. Black and white peppercorn, a light briny end to it.

Palate:

A rather white pepper driven start on the palate. Starfruits, oak-infused barley, green tropical fruits and lemon aloe vera jelly. Almost metallic at some point. Peat smoke churning lightly, sea salt, followed by a spicy spike, peppermint, chilli seeds and ginger shreds. Wood shavings, chocolate malt, it is surprisingly bitter. Minimal mango sweetness, chocolate malt and nutmeg to finish.

Finish:

More nutmeg, black and white pepper sprinkled all over guava and subtle fruity sweetness.

Thoughts:

A surprisingly green and spicy Highland Park here, plenty of oak as well. Not a usual HP which is generally less dry and juicer. I didn’t enjoy this profile too much, maybe I was wrong to presume the goddess of love have to be something sweet? But instead we got something on the other side of the spectrum. I guess it is a curve ball whisky that some might find it interesting. Borderline tick, maybe?

✓ [Recommended if you like the Style/ Distillery]

[51.2% / Original Bottling / 2014 Bottled / Cask Strength / Limited Edition / T-]

Dram Review: Murray McDavid Mission Highland Park 1979 Aged 27 Years

[46.2%・27 Years Old・Distilled in 1979・Bottled in 2006・Murray McDavid Bottling・Limited Release of 500 Bottles]

Nose:

Aged tea leaves and coffee cream, there is a certain vinegar inspired acidity with red wine tannins per the Syrah casks.  Towards the back end there is a hint of cream cheese.

Palate & Finish:

Fascinatingly sweet with Japanese strawberries drizzled in a balsamic vinegar reduction. The jammy theme is well carried, fairly much like a basket of forrest berries.

Lingering red fruits in the finish and again some wee cream cheese note in the background.

Thoughts:

I quite like this as a dessert digestiff type of dram, rather tasty traits from the casks led jammy vibe; though the dram is not all together, it’s lacking some coherence aside from the cask influence..

✓ [Recommended if you like the style/ distillery]

-Nicholas