Together with the old sherry Glenlossie, this Highland Park was the high point in this very special tasting.
Of all independent bottlers, Gordon and MacPhail have a singular approach to wood management: They bring their own casks to distilleries, and have them filled there. Thus, they are probably the independent bottler most involved in the process. You can also see that approach in the new Benromach 10 year old expressions coming out, winning high praise for both the 10 year old and the 100 proof.
This is the earliest distilled whisky of the bunch in this expression, and together with the four Gordon and MacPhail expressions I tasted in the “changing of the guard” masterclass, there are five 1950s G&M whiskys tasted at the Whisky Show. This particular bottle was taken from Sukinder’s own collection so it has no official price (but was estimated at £1500).
Gordon and MacPhail Highland Park 1955, 30 Year Old, Bottled in 1985 for Intertrade (53.2% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Light bronze, slow legs with a ring that remains around the glass.
Nose: Gentle sherry, very old nose, mossy and earthy with apricot jam. Water brings out a sweeter nose with dried fruit, Dutch sweet condensed milk and heather honey. The water teases out more of the Highland Park.
Palate: Here’s where the peat shows up with a sweet smokiness with pepper and fruit on a barbecue. The palate is very unlike the gentle nose. Water changes the sweetness to a metallic sweetness.
Linger: Very peppery with notes of mint (like after brushing your teeth) and sweet notes linger on the tongue.
Wow, this is one complex dram.
We’d expect Highland Park to age well, but this expression has more than just the age in it. It plays with your senses, raising one expectation then delivering something else. Stunning!