The nose of this veteran is hugely enticing; rich, with old leather, soft spices, sultanas, figs, polished oak, and dunnage warehouses. Tangy orange develops in time. The orange carries over onto the palate—amazingly vibrant and youthful fruitiness—followed by soft toffee, woodsmoke, and a sprinkling of dusty oak. The finish is extraordinarily long, with licorice and fruit-laden old oak. A true classic! (77 bottles in U.S.)
Highland Park 1973 vintage 33 year old (Cask #13308), 54.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $280
Dark and decadent. Notes of old pot still rum, roasted nuts, chocolate fudge, burnished leather, Dundee cake, tobacco, and a hint of damp peat. When I drink this, I feel like I’m sitting in the study of a stately Scottish mansion contemplating a fine, aged Cuban cigar. Royalty in a glass. (Bottled for Binny’s Beverage Depot)
Introduced to the Highland Park portfolio in 1997. Gentle peat, soft toffee, floral notes, and honey on the beautifully fragrant nose. Superbly balanced on the velvety palate, with brittle toffee, stewed fruits, peat, honey, and a hint of coffee. Smoke and more toffee mingle in the long, elegant finish.
A marriage of two casks (refill hogsheads). Significantly darker in color than the 1968 vintage. Darker (and more serious) in personality, too. Red berries (strawberry, raspberry), rhubarb, plum, oak sap, vanilla bean, smoldering peat, coffee grounds, toasted almond, and dusty malt. The finish is long and contemplative, with notes of polished leather, juicy oak, and telicherry peppercorns. £3,750
Highland Park 34 year old 1971 vintage (Cask #8363), 53%
Single Malt Scotch | $325
Rummy molasses and toffee sweetness intertwine with roasted nuts and bright, juicy fruit. Suggestions of fig, lavender, leather, and tobacco throughout, with a hint of peat and polished oak on the finish. Not quite as refined as the Highland Park 18 year old, but it makes up for this with its dynamic personality. A delicious ultra-mature, sherry cask-aged whisky. (A Binny’s Beverage Depot exclusive.)
This limited edition bottling consists of a marriage of both European and American oak. Still lively for its age, and beautifully balanced. Bountiful golden fruit (sultana, pineapple upside down cake, tangerine, overripe nectarine) balanced by soothing, creamy vanilla. A peppering of dried spice, chamomile tea, toasted oak, cigar box, and subtle smoke round out the palate. Soft and seductive. (Not available in the U.S.) £2,250
Highland Park 1977 vintage 29 year old (Cask #7957), 48.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $300
A delicious, well-balanced, ultra-matured expression of Highland Park. Toffee apples, molasses, and vanilla fudge provide a sweet foundation, with evolving notes of dark chocolate, dry spicy oak, tobacco, subtle smoke, and lingering brine on the finish. Nicely done. (Bottled for Old Oaks Cigar & Wine Company)
Highland Park 32 year old 1973 Vintage (Cask #8375), 41.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $350
An essay in elegance. Silky and soft in texture, and very clean. Notes of peaches and cream, vanilla wafer, soft honey and fruit gum drops. Subtler notes of tropical fruit (pineapple, lemon, coconut), demerara sugar, heather, and anise. Polished oak adds structure and contrast, with a very elegant finish. Hard to believe this whisky is 32 years old. It's lighter and more elegant than the equally splendid Highland Park 30 year old, which I rated a 94 in the last issue. (Bottled exclusively for Park Avenue Liquors.)
An exemplary Highland Park. There's certainly plenty of sherry influence in this whisky and it is complementary. (About 2/3 of the whisky was aged on sherry casks, and a lot of these casks were second fill.) The whisky enjoys a delicious foundation of toffee, fruit (lemon, plum, blueberries) and dark chocolate. It continues to develop and evolve on the palate, with emerging notes of heather, nougat, lavender, delicate peat and complex dried spice (especially cinnamon and nutmeg) to balance the sweeter notes. The extra alcohol is also a bonus, providing a drying balance to the whisky's sweetness. Whiskies like this one remind me why I fell in love with whisky in the first place.
A marriage of eight casks (seven hogsheads, one sherry butt). A whisky in excellent shape for its age. Very clean and bright on the palate, with no excessive oak. Notes of lemon tart, clementine, plum, honeyed vanilla, and polished oak, peppered with clove, soft mint, marshmallow, and subtle toasted coconut. Clinging, mouth-coating finish. £2,250
The good news: This is one of the best Highland Park whiskies I have ever tasted. The bad news: it’s the new release for Travel Retail (formerly Duty Free). It’s lush, well-balanced, and very complex. Well-defined notes of toffee, candied fruit, and roasted nuts are accentuated by background honey, chocolate mousse, and smoke. Here’s the icing on the cake: it’s bottled at 47.5%, which really allows the flavors to shine. If you’re going overseas, consider tracking down a bottle.
Antique copper color, with some streaks of gold. A complex array of dried fruit on the nose, peppered with dried spice, orange marmalade, dark chocolate, and wood shavings. On the palate, the immediate impact is once again marmalade, followed briefly by bramble before drier notes of dark chocolate, wood shavings, anise, and subtle smoke emerge. Dry and spicy on the finish, but never austere. A delicious, contemplative 40 year old Highland Park that has aged gracefully.
This is a permanent addition to the range. Out of curiosity, I tasted it next to the other great Highland Parks (the 30 year old and several very good single cask bottlings over 30 years old). This whisky is in the same league as the others. Its only down side is that it’s a lot more expensive than the others.
Highland Park 1983 vintage 23 year old (Cask #691), 59.8%
Single Malt Scotch | $150
Very sophisticated and subtly complex. Perhaps the lightest-colored of the bunch. Fresh, appetizing brine and spice (cinnamon, vanilla, white pepper, and clove) on a bed of soft honey and creamy vanilla, with just a hint of fruit. The notes are bright, clean, and tight. Spicy, briny finish. A beautifully delicate Highland Park. (Bottled for Green’s)
One of two recent vintage releases, this 1971 example has been matured in seventeen Spanish oak casks, that yielded a total of 657 bottles. Sweet on the nose, with maple syrup, almonds, and sherry. Soft and insinuating. Becoming progressively smokier. Bold fruit and peat notes on the palate, plus oak, cloves, and dark chocolate notes. Peppery in the long finish, with subtle tannins and persistent citrus fruits.
Matured exclusively in sherry-seasoned first-fill European oak casks and bottled at cask strength. The nose yields figs, soft smoke, cinnamon, sugarcane, and rich fruitcake. The palate is succulent and confident, with creamy sweet sherry, dried fruits, coffee, and woodsmoke. Long and drying in the finish, with flecks of char. Highland Park doing what it does best. (28,000 bottles)
Highland Park 18 year old Viking Pride (2019 Batch), 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $155
Christmas warmth in a glass, its maturity showing in complex aromas of baked apple, poached pear, Christmas cake, cinnamon, gingerbread, and cloves, enlivened by a tropical note of lime and a hint of peat. More baking spices on a rich palate that offers milk chocolate, melted caramel, and strawberry jam, with water bringing out notes of candied fruit, chocolate, and more light peat. Nimble, spiced, and replete with flavors to treasure.
Highland Park Cask Strength (Release No. 1), 63.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $90
This first cask-strength expression in Highland Park’s core range was matured predominantly in sherry-seasoned American oak. Honey, bonfire smoke, orange peel, and a suggestion of treacle on the nose. Sweet and smoky on the palate, with toffee and orchard fruits turning more citric in time. The finish yields sweet spices, more honey, dark chocolate, black pepper, and bonfire embers. Classic Highland Park—turned up to 11! Editors' Choice
A whiff of peat and a maritime breeze of salt air, seashells, and beach bonfire embers, drifting into tropical notes of lime and pineapple, as well as baked apples. Sweetness on the palate, with a dash of peat atop vanilla cream, graham cracker, milk chocolate, zesty lime, and espresso beans. Water brings out fruit notes of melon, strawberries, and red apples, and the finish settles things with a back note of cocoa and a bang of winter spice. (Editors' Choice)
The second in a series of three high-strength, limited edition Highland Park whiskies, and a rather bold expression. Nicely sherried and noticeably smoky — more than a standard Highland Park. Quite spicy too — with cinnamon, but also ginger and nutmeg. Throw in some toffee apple, Cointreau, and waxed fruit for intrigue. Long, sherried, smoky finish. A very exciting whisky. (Not available in the U.S.)£85
Highland Park 1974 vintage 31 year old (Cask #8998), 45.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $438
Antique gold, relatively light in color compared to the rest of the Highland Parks reviewed here. Nicely rounded on the nose and palate, and surprisingly youthful for such maturity. Mouth-coating texture. Quite fruity -- especially with some water -- with notes of honey-drenched citrus, sultana, key lime pie, and melon. Caramel and bitter chocolate notes emerge, with the chocolate and a wisp of smoke lingering on the finish. I could drink this all day and never tire of it. (Bottled for Virginia ABC)
Following last year’s release of The Dark, this parallel 17 year old cask-strength expression was matured in refill American oak. The nose yields vanilla, oats, ripe pears, and mild wood-fire embers. Supple and initially sweet on the palate, with icing sugar, tangerines, and developing darker, spicier notes. Lengthy in the finish, with spicy cedar oil. Proof that Highland Park doesn’t need sherry casks to be good. (4,500 bottles for U.S.)
Rich, deep, and muscular on the nose and palate -- and very polished. Notes of caramel/butterscotch-coated citrus (lemon, Clementine) honeyed tropical fruit (coconut, pineapple), peaches and cream, creamy vanilla, and ripe barley, along with more subtle smoke, cut grass, and ginger. Firm, dry, resinous grip on the finish keeps all the sweetness in check. Rather expensive for its age, but not for its quality. Very impressive for a 12 year old! (Available only at the Highland Park distillery, their on-line shop, and in Scandinavia.) £65
This is one of four new additions to the portfolio in 2018, and is the pick of the bunch. It is a ‘marrying-strength’ variant of the 18 year old, relaunched in 2017. Treacle tart, sweet woodsmoke, and milky coffee on the robust nose. The palate is voluptuous, with tangy orange, malt, and more woodsmoke. Milk chocolate and smoky Jaffa oranges in the finish. (Travel Retail exclusive)
Highland Park 12 Year Old boasts individuality and complexity, thanks in part to the use of Orcadian peat in the distillery floor maltings and the employment of ex-sherry casks for maturation. The nose is fragrant and floral, with hints of heather and some spice. Smooth and honeyed on the palate, with citrus fruits, malt, and distinctive tones of wood smoke in the warm, lengthy, slightly peaty finish.
Thor is the first in Highland Park’s new cask strength Valhalla Collection, with a fresh expression inspired by the Nordic gods due to be released annually over the next four years. Ginger, sherry, Christmas spices, wood smoke, vanilla, and a hint of lemon on the complex, confident nose. Notably spicy in the mouth, with peaches, clotted cream, sherry, and more smoke. Long in the finish, with lots of ginger, a little aniseed, and finally, spicy peat.
A new expression due out in March, positioned between the 12 and 18 year old versions. A fresh and enormously drinkable whisky; very silky, with honeyed malt, delicate citrus and berry fruit, floral notes (heather and lavender), and a hint of cocoa and sea spray.
Fire is the first Highland Park expression to be fully matured in “refill port wine-seasoned casks” and it carries a 15 year age statement. Very fruity on the nose—raspberries and prunes —plus lightly-smoked pineapple and vanilla. More smoky, spicy fruit features on the palate, with a light sprinkling of cinnamon. The peat dries to leave ashy licorice and black pepper in a lingering finish. The port is pleasingly discreet. (4,938 bottles for the U.S.)
This is a recent addition to the portfolio, and has been matured in a mixture of thirteen American oak butts and hogsheads. These have given an out-turn of 893 bottles. Freshly-grated ginger, white pepper, and melons on the nose. Soft fruit and spices feature on the palate, with honey and coconut oil, plus background peat smoke. Lively spices, soft oak, and hazelnuts in the finish.
A.D. Rattray (distilled at Highland Park) 19 year old 1992, 48.8%
Single Malt Scotch | $120
Many of the independent H.P. bottlings are aged in bourbon casks, and, like this one, exhibit creamy vanilla, honeyed malt, and citrus. I’m also picking up some more subtle heather, brine, coconut, and nougat. This one is clean on the palate and shows nice balance, with enough dry oak on the finish to counter the whisky’s sweeter notes. (A D&M Wines & Liquors exclusive.)
More obviously sherried on the nose than either Sigurd or Ragnvald; buttery, with figs, sultanas, vanilla, a hint of leather, and ripe oranges. Rich and silky on the complex palate; overt sherry, ginger, and lots of old leather and sweet smoke. Spice is quite muted here. The finish is lengthy, with plain chocolate, wood smoke, figs, and tingling spices. Luxurious and accomplished. (Travel Retail exclusive.) €1,000
Bright gold color. Soft aromas and flavors of delicate honey, heather, subtle spice, tropical fruit, creamy vanilla, and malt. Nicely balanced throughout the palate and very clean-this whisky was aged in an excellent cask. There are no off flavor notes from the wood at all, nor is it too woody on the finish. Rather, it finishes soft, gentle, and clean.
Murray McDavid Mission IV (distilled at Highland Park) 1979 Vintage, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $210
Clean and fragrant on the nose, with aromas of dried heather, germinating barley, and white chocolate. Soft, sweet malt along with honeycomb, crème brulee, and a hint of fruit puree. The palate is soothingly malty, delivering what the aroma promised (first the sweet notes, then dried heather and spice), with a dry, polished oak finish. The extra aging adds depth, and the cask was obviously a good one, with no hint of being tired or old.
Yellow gold color. Fresh, floral aromas (reminiscent of a spring garden), creamy vanilla, honey, heather, subtle fruit, and a hint of toasted oak. Elegant and nicely balanced. Medium in body, but richly so. Richly flavored, too, and nicely balanced, with notes that echo the aromas. In fact, this is one of the most balanced whiskies I've had in quite a while. A hint of salt, spice, and seaweed on the finish linger on indefinitely. This whisky is a pure joy to drink and demonstrates why Highland Park is so highly regarded. The fact that it was aged in a bourbon cask allows this whisky's more subtle notes to be fully appreciated. Quite delicious!
This follows Valkyrie in the Viking Legend series. Distilled using a proportion of Tartan barley grown on Orkney, which is said to produce additional smokiness. Matured mainly in sherry-seasoned American oak casks. Smoldering wood embers on the early nose, with heather in bloom and apple blossom. Vanilla, cloves, and smoky citrus fruit on the palate. The finish yields peat, aniseed, and nutmeg.
Strawberry jam and heather honey on the nose, with subtle woodsmoke, vanilla, and pineapple. Bold tropical fruits on the palate, with toffee, red berries, and more soft woodsmoke. The medium-length finish highlights licorice and drying oak.
Odin is the fourth and final release in Highland Park’s Valhalla Collection. It has been aged in a combination of first-fill Spanish oak sherry casks and refill hogsheads, with the former predominating. The nose yields cocoa powder, insistent spice, subtle sweet smoke, heather honey, and rum-and-raisin fudge. Rich and fruity on the palate, with lively dark spices, plus treacle and peat smoke. The lingering finish initially offers smoky sherry, then dries with licorice and oak. (17,000 bottles)
Pear drops, green apples, lots of toffee, and more spice on the nose than in the Sigurd expression; also fresher and fruitier. Voluptuous mouthfeel, with sherry, toffee, vanilla, nutmeg, and a wisp of fragrant smoke. Toffee remains in the finish, with notes of cocoa powder, smoky oak, and citrus spice. Very well balanced.(Travel Retail exclusive.) €400
Highland Park 1992 vintage 13 year old (Cask #1673), 57.7%
Single Malt Scotch | $125
Richly sherried, great mouthfeel, and well-balanced. The sherry is clean, and is only one facet of this multi-dimensional whisky. Notes of lush orange and apricot, soaked in molasses and maple syrup. Fig cake and oak resin add structure and complexity. Dry, spicy cinnamon, resinous finish. (Bottled for Delilah’s, and for Bull and Bush)
Scott's Selection (distilled at Highland Park) 1981 vintage, 50.6%
Single Malt Scotch | $215
Honey, creamy vanilla, caramel, sultana, and toasted almond along with a hint of lemon gum drops and banana. Quite floral, too -- lavender, heather -- with a gentle, lingering finish. A very soothing, mouth-coating whisky with excellent balance, while still quite fresh. Indeed, a very more-ish whisky -- and sneaky in how it grows on you with each sip.
Highland Park 21 year old (November 2019 Release), 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $350
This latest release comprises the contents of nine first-fill European sherry-seasoned oak hogsheads, eight bourbon barrels, and nine refill casks, all laid down in 1998. Hints of warm machine oil and herbs on the nose, with pineapple, barley sugar, and white pepper, plus a touch of heather and faint smokiness. Slightly bitter on the palate, with wood spices, while fruitiness lurks in the background. Peppery oak char and coal in the finish.
Warm machine oil on the early nose, slightly herbal, with apricots and vanilla
emerging in time. Slick on the palate, with light smoke, honey, delicate spices, and
eventually, burnt toffee. The finish features licorice, pipe tobacco, and white pepper.
Ultimately mouth-drying. £170
Exclusive Malts (distilled at Highland Park) 2003 14 year old, 54.5%
Single Malt Scotch | $135
The nose is muted, with gentle orchard fruits, subtle malt, nougat, and nutty toffee. The palate, by contrast, is bold and offers big fresh fruit notes, notably zesty tangerines, along with crème brûlée. Dry peat notes follow. Earthy peat smoke and white pepper with a citrus tang in the long finish. (230 bottles)
Named for Highland Park Distillery’s founder, Magnus Eunson. It has been matured in first-fill and refill American oak sherry casks. The nose offers honeysuckle, vanilla, rising bread dough, and faint, aromatic wood smoke. Slightly smoky orchard fruits on the early palate, with sultanas, ripe cherries, and cinnamon. Medium to long in the finish, with drying fruit notes, wood spice, and ultimately, licorice sticks. (U.S. exclusive)
ICE Edition is a 17 year old matured predominantly in bourbon casks. Just 30,000 rather extravagantly presented bottles are available globally. Fresh and fruity on the nose with light trademark Highland Park sweet smoke, ginger, and a hint of dry earth. In time the fruits become more clearly defined as pears and peaches. Full and viscous on the palate; vanilla, pepper, brief orchard fruits, then dry peat, licorice, aniseed, and a lingering, relatively dry finish.
Full Volume is a U.S.-exclusive bottling that was distilled in 1999 and matured entirely in first-fill bourbon casks. The nose is fragrant, with canned pears and vanilla ice cream, coconut, and a very subtle wisp of smoke. Quite thin on the palate, nutty, mildly herbal, with tropical fruits. Ashy peat smoke, cocoa powder, and wood spice in the medium-length finish.
Highland Park 1990 vintage 15 year old (Cask #10146), 53.6%
Single Malt Scotch | $78
The darkest and most decadent of the three 15 year olds here. Notes of molasses, demerara rum, apricot, and dates. More subtle notes of mixed nuts, sap, tobacco, and fig, with just a hint of Moroccan spice and leather. Surprisingly complex for a whisky this young, and the most intriguing of the younger expressions reviewed here. (Bottled for Beltramo’s Fine Wines & Spirits)
Murray McDavid (distilled at Highland Park) 1988 14 year old, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $48
Deep gold color. Nicely balanced aroma of honeyed malt, fruit, floral notes, and a hint of the sea. Medium in body and smooth. The palate begins with soothing honey notes, followed by a rich maltiness. Ripe fruit flavors emerge, lush and delicious. The whisky eventually becomes dry and floral, with a suggestion of salt.
Exclusive Malts (distilled at Highland Park) 25 year old, 46.8%
Single Malt Scotch | $345
Distilled in March 1992, this single cask expression was matured in a refill hogshead (#1266). The nose yields heather in bloom, a hint of machine oil, vanilla, orange fondant creams, and a wisp of sweet wood smoke. Smooth on the palate, with creamy orange notes, gentle spice, and, ultimately, soft peat smoke. The finish is relatively long, with Jaffa orange, black pepper, and drying oak. (209 bottles)
Valkyrie replaces the current Dark Origins expression and was matured in a combination of first-fill American oak sherry casks, American oak bourbon casks, and European oak sherry casks, along with some refill casks. Apricots and aromatic wood smoke on the nose; slightly oily, with raisins. Stewed fruits on the palate, with earthy peat, licorice, and black pepper. Aniseed, dark berry notes, and wood spice in the finish.
Following on from Thor, Loki is the second release in Highland Park’s Valhalla Collection. Loki has been matured in a mix of sherry and heavily-peated casks. Initial notes of marzipan on the nose, then orange, oriental spices, and chili. In time, yellow plums, vanilla, and floral notes. Soft and sweet on the palate, with pink grapefruit, overt smoke, and a touch of salt. The finish features contrasting barbecue and vanilla notes, citrus, and lots of spice.
Highland Park suggests this is its peatiest whisky to date. Smoky roasted malt notes
on the nose, with singed wood and a slowly developing floral note. Initially, sweeter
than expected on the palate, with vanilla and apricots, then dark peat, licorice, and
treacle toffee notes appear. Black tea and black pepper in the finish, along with a hint
of pineapple. £60
Douglas Laing 21 year old (distilled at Highland Park), 52.6%
Single Malt Scotch | $224
This Highland Park bottling appears in Douglas Laing’s prestigious XOP range, and after distillation in September 1994 the spirit in question was matured in a single refill hogshead (#10897) before bottling in September 2015. The outturn is just 228 bottles. Boiled fruit sweets and malt on the nose, with underlying sea salt and gentle, leathery smoke. Confident in the mouth, with allspice, honey, barley, and wood smoke. The finish is lengthy, with drying oak and peat. £155
Adelphi Fascadale 12 year old Batch 5 (distilled at Highland Park), 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $69
The fifth batch of Adelphi’s Fascadale single malt comprises a marriage of two Spanish oak casks and three American oak casks of Highland Park. The outturn is 1,483 bottles. Icing sugar, vanilla, milk chocolate, apricots, plus mildly smoky malt on the nose. Full-bodied and fruity on the palate, with toffee, black pepper, and a hint of peat in the background. The medium-length finish is slowly drying. £45
Douglas Laing Old Particular (distilled at Highland Park) 18 year old cask #0074, 48.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $169
The Old Particular non-chill filtered single cask expression of Highland Park was distilled in November 1995, matured in a refill hogshead, and bottled in December 2013. The outturn was 322 bottles. Initially quite reticent on the nose, then toffee, cardboard, table salt, and very faint smoke. Quite viscous on the palate, and dry peat becomes relatively prominent, with allspice and sea salt. The finish offers licorice and lingering spices. £100
Freya is the third release in Highland Park’s Valhalla Collection; unusually, it has been matured in first-fill bourbon casks. It fits into the core range between the 12 and 18 year olds. The nose is sweet, floral, and heathery, with pineapple, mango, and a background earthiness. Finally, vanilla and milk chocolate. Smooth on the palate, with passion fruit, and more overt peatiness than is apparent on the nose. Subtle peat, char, and a hint of licorice in the finish.
Heather honey, malt, newly-cut hay, pineapple, and very slight smoke on the nose. Leather, malt, cinnamon, a touch of oak and soft smokiness on the palate. Medium in length, with a hint of honey behind the oak, spice, and smoke. (Travel Retail exclusive.) €150
Highland Park 1983 vintage 22 year old (Cask #686), 56.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $175
Dark and complex. Sweet notes of toffee and caramel are spiced with notes of cinnamon and cocoa. Background notes of smoldering peat, oak resin, and clove add intrigue and balance the sweetness. Long, resinous, dried spice finish. (Bottled for Sam’s Wines and Spirits)
Highland Park 24 year old 1981 Vintage (Cask #3252), 45.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $180
A lush Highland Park, aged in a sherry cask. Ripe fruit (sultana, apricot, dark cherry pits), layers of sweetness (toffee, nougat, molasses) almonds, and juicy oak. Hints of vanilla cream, honey, heather and polished leather add dimension. This sherry contribution is clean, not overly sappy or waxy like others I have tasted. (Bottled exclusively for Binny's Beverage Depot.)
Harald Fairhair was King of Norway and a major figure in Viking history. This Warrior variant takes us closer to Highland Park’s traditional DNA, with the nose offering potato peels on a barbecue; earthy and herbal, with developing notes of heather in bloom and even violets. Lively fresh fruits, newly-baked cake, nutmeg, and ginger figure on the palate. The spicy finish is relatively long, with candied citrus peel and licorice. €75/700 ml
Douglas Laing Old Malt Cask (distilled at Highland Park) 15 year old, 50%
Single Malt Scotch | $111
Unlike ‘house’ bottlings of Highland Park, all of which are aged in sherry casks, this expression in Douglas Laing’s Old Malt Cask series has been matured in former bourbon wood. It was distilled in September 1996. Sweet and fruity on the nose, with nougat and peanut butter, plus a slightly herbal note, and finally discreet, sweet peat smoke. Medium-bodied, citric, and spicy, with a little smoke. Smokiness turns to ash in the finish, with citrus fruit and caramel. £70
Murray McDavid (distilled at Highland Park) 1989 vintage 17 year old, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $85
Aged initially in a refill sherry cask, and then in port casks. Layers of lush fruit (red raspberry, strawberry, currant, rhubarb, and ripe peach) with underlying toffee and pot still rum adding body and texture. Peat and brine peek through intermittently, particularly on the finish. The whisky is heavy on the fruit, but it is clean and not cloying. A very soothing whisky.
Douglas Laing Old Particular 1996 (distilled at Highland Park), 48.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $151
This 17 year old single cask (#10042) bottling of Highland Park was distilled in September 1996 and is presented non-chill filtered and with no added color in Douglas Laing’s Old Particular range. Baked cereal and peeled apples on the peaty nose, while dark, smoky notes contrast with lighter, fruity flavors on the palate, along with a sprinkling of pepper. The finish dries, with more pepper, bonfire embers, and coffee grounds. £90
Dark Origins is a new addition to Highland Park’s core range, inspired by the distillery’s founder, Magnus Eunson. The recipe embraces twice as many first-fill sherry casks than that of Highland Park 12 year old. Chocolate malt, caramel, and ripe bananas on the nose, with a whiff of coal dust. Silky on the palate, with dry sherry, autumn berries, plus more coal and a spicy, plain chocolate edge. Long and dry in the smoky finish, with black pepper.
Cadenhead Authentic Collection 28 year old (distilled at Highland Park), 48.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $191
Distilled in 1985, this expression of Highland Park was matured in a single bourbon cask that yielded 252 bottles. Green apples, tinned mandarin oranges, linseed, and a hint of smoky chocolate on the nose. Sweet spices, coconut, and mild peat smoke on the light palate. Lingering peat smoke, root ginger, and a touch of vanilla in the medium-length finish. £120
Highland Park 1986 vintage 19 year old (Cask #2498), 53.8%
Single Malt Scotch | $120
Amber-gold colored (not as dark as the other Beltramo’s offering here), with notes of caramel, honey, heather, and bright fruit, evolving into gentle cinnamon, vanilla, and ginger. Soft finish. A Highland Park for a lazy afternoon. (Bottled for Beltramo’s Fine Wines & Spirits)
Einar was joint Earl of Orkney from 1014, and this bottling moves the Warrior Series slightly further into familiar Highland Park territory. Some gentle smoke on the nose, with fresh newsprint, ginger, caramel, and a hint of halibut oil. Peat smoke, vanilla, and citrus fruit on the palate. A little peat smoke in the medium-length finish. €53/liter
Highland Park Ambassador's Choice 10 year old, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $90
Originally exclusive to the Swedish market, this expression was selected by Highland Park’s Danish brand ambassador Martin Markvardsen. Matured in a combination of 70% bourbon barrels and 30% oloroso sherry casks. Waxy and malty on the early nose, with fresh earth, damp moss, vanilla, and honey. Gentle peat on the palate, more earthy notes; herbal, with lime and salt. The finish is quite short, showing apricots, slight peatiness, allspice.
Highland Park 31 year old 1974 vintage (Cask #8998), 45.4%
Single Malt Scotch | $440
Pleasant aroma (subtle, but with nice depth), with notes of honeyed lime, kiwi, chopped nuts, chocolate fudge, and gentle, seasoned tobacco. Everything is working nicely on the palate too, with a similar flavor profile (the nuts now being roasted) and some smoldering smoke, until about mid-palate, when its age becomes evident with some wet wood notes blending in the mix through to the finish. (Exclusive to Virginia ABC.)
Named after the Viking chieftain whose exploits are central to the Orkneyinga Saga, Svein is the least typically Highland Park of the initial three Warrior releases. The nose is oily, with starch and ozone, then ultimately freshly-squeezed orange and lemon juice. The palate offers a suggestion of smoke, sawdust, and vanilla. Nutty and slightly peppery in the finish, with just a suggestion of peat. €40/liter
The Classic Cask (distilled at Highland Park) 23 year old 1982 vintage, 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $70
Honey, vanilla, heather, and citrus are the major components of this Highland Park, with a hint of youthful peat in the background. Some polished oak kicks in on the palate towards the finish. A pleasant whisky for those who like a mature Highland Park without the sherry cask influence. (A Bayway World of Liquor exclusive.)
Highland Park 1991 vintage 14 year old (Cask #2310), 56.7%
Single Malt Scotch | $80
Generally sweet notes of honeyed fruit, orange marmalade, dark chocolate, and salt water taffy. Soft, gently briny finish. Pleasing enough of a whisky -- with no miscues -- but missing the depth found in some of the older bottlings. (Bottled for Texas)
Gordon & MacPhail (distilled at Highland Park) 12 year old 1992 Vintage, 58.1%
Single Malt Scotch | $70
Medium-bodied but viscous in texture. Clearly aged in a bourbon cask-there's plenty of honeyed malt and vanilla throughout. Hints of bourbon even peek through occasionally, along with some subtle peat. Soft melon mid-palate yields to dried spice, sea salt, bitter chocolate and herbal notes on the finish. Fairly dry for a 12 year old-particularly on the finish. Best served as an aperitif.
Highland Park 1990 vintage 15 year old (Cask #10140), 52.7%
Single Malt Scotch | $75
Caramelized, fruity notes of mandarin, pineapple, golden raisin, and plum. Heathery honey notes add an additional sweet dimension, as do some light toffee and nougat. A dusting of cocoa powder emerges occasionally. Like the other 15 year olds, this one is quite sherried, thick, and heavy on the palate. (Bottled for Hi-Time Wine Cellars)
Highland Park 1990 vintage 15 year old (Cask #10132), 56.3%
Single Malt Scotch | $80
Lushly fruity and quite sweet. A bit too sappy on the nose, but more even-keeled on the palate. The fruit notes (nectarine, plum, orange marmalade) sit on a bed of caramel, shortbread, and thick honey, with chocolate-covered almonds emerging on the finish. For those who like their Highland Park youthful and very sherried. (Bottled for Grape Vine Market)
This whisky is not as good as the similarly-aged, more polished and refined, standard distillery-bottled 25 year old cask-strength expression (our "Whisky of the Year" several years ago). This single cask bottling from a sherry cask is intensely sherried. Sappy fruit notes dominate the palate. Damp, somewhat tired, oak notes are prevalent throughout. The whisky is also nutty, with heathery peat notes emerging occasionally. The floral, heather-honeyed grace treasured in Highland Park struggles to emerge, and ultimately loses the battle. (Bottled exclusively for Park Avenue Liquors.)
Rich and viscous in texture. Sappy waxed fruit, maple syrup, and nougat. Becoming quite nutty with emerging notes of damp peat, dates, plum and blueberry. The sherry is fairly dominant and masks some of the whisky's subtleties. After dinner with a cigar, perhaps? (Bottled exclusively for Beltramo's.)
Highland Park 1981 vintage 25 year old (Cask #7380), 55%
Single Malt Scotch | $225
The sherry is very dominant and cloying, which is unfortunate. And I’m not crazy about the quality of the sherry (or perhaps even the wood it was aged in). I have great respect for both Highland Park and Binny’s, but this is somewhat disappointing for a Highland Park. Tasted twice, with the same opinion. (Bottled for Binny’s Beverage Depot)