So tonight we attended the L Mulligan Whiskey Shop tasting with the Highland Park Distillery; good company, good vibe but most importantly good whisky. Our roll call for the evening; Highland Park new make, Highland Park 10 Year old, 12-Year-old and the 18-Year-old to finish off the evening. In terms of worst to best, I’d say it went 12, 18/New Make and the 10 being the most interesting of the night. I know, I know, the 12 is a standard whisky world-wide over, but it was a touch off, a touch lazy, a touch boring. While it was a nice drink, it didn’t do anything to wow me, and I feel as though tomorrow I’ll have forgotten about it. The 10 however? Now, there was a different beast altogether.
Highland Park has a long and interesting history, but through all of it they mainly kept the 12 and 18 as standard drams. The 10-Year-old is a more recent addition to the line-up, and really does Highland Park justice. So, 10 Years, sherry cask matured, utilizing peat from the Orkneys Hobbister Moor, the dram is a change from the 12 and a change for the better.
The nose starts with light heather and honey smoke, pear drops falling down around us as we sit in our wee Orkney cove popping raspberry bonbons and boiled strawberry sweets into our mouth. In front of us burns a beautiful tiny beach fire, built of seagrass, driftwood, bracken and scrub we’ve pulled on our way down. After staring into the ocean, we turn back to that fire, and toast some soda bread on a metal fork before spreading some thick strawberry jam over the top and sprinkling some cinnamon and all spice over the top. We did char the toast and jam a touch, but it adds to the flavour, opening up the nose and letting us see the facets of the smoke.
The palate is our bite into that toast; delicate charring of sugar, toasted raspberries and strawberries with some sherbet and melted Redskins sweets. Light touches of lavender and heather run through over the tongue, with vanilla fudge coming shortly before we sink our teeth into yellow wrinkled and wizened apples, lovingly tangy with sweet old natural sugar. As we sit back on the beach sand and devour our little snack basket, we finish with light grapefruit rind, long with silken spices and herbs that is sweet and lingering, wisps of smokes brushing us gracefully as we lie back and relax in our perfect little Orkney cove.
I do love me some Highland Park. The 10-Year-old delivered on everything that I have always enjoyed about the dram, and really pushed it further. The new make is a touch too much, the 18 loses what I think makes Highland Park Highland Park, but the 10? The 10 gives a brilliant expression of what Highland Park is, and wants to be. All in all, loving the dram, loving the hipflask filled with it, and loving the sweet smoke that runs off my glass every time I raise it to my nose.