Apr 102019
 

Highland Park Wings of the Eagle is the third expression in the new travel retail series offering. You’ll recall that I was somewhat underwhelmed with the two first expressions in this series. I found both The Spirit of the Bear and The Loyalty of the Wolf quite mundane.

Photo Credit: scotchwhiskyblog.wordpress.com

This expression, despite being very much a part of the series, has crossed the threshold for being a whisky maltheads would enjoy. This expression is already a Highland Park the likes of which maltheads would enjoy.

 

Photo Credit: homeofmalts.com

Highland Park Wings of the Eagle (44.5%)

Appearance: Amber, slow legs with a lot of residue on the glass.

Nose: Coffee and wood spices, with sweet cooked clove, toffee, vanilla, and a hint of tobacco leaf. Time takes the spice towards sweetness, with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Palate: Full bodied, cinnamon and clove, dried fruit and honey cake. There’s a light dryness and a hint of a citrusy bitterness.

Linger: Lightly spiced, with a sweetness on the palate the turns spicier as it goes down the gullet. It’s pretty dry on the linger.

Conclusion

Hello! Here’s the Highland Park I know and like.

All sherry, American and European oak, coupled with an alcoholic strength that starts to carry the flavors.

Feb 262019
 

The second expression in the new travel retail series it the Highland Park Loyalty of the Wolf 14 year old.

The whisky is matured in American oak casks, part of the recipe comes from seasoned in sherry and some from ex bourbon casks. The bottle is a one liter bottle, as is the standard for the travel retail expressions, and at around €65 per bottle, the price point is pretty attractive.

Here’s Highland Park’s Global Ambassador Martin Markvardsen’s take on the Loyalty of the Wolf:

Our question is, of course, is the whisky as attractive as its price?

 

Photo Credit: scotchmaltwhisky.co.uk

Highland Park Loyalty of the Wolf, 14 Years Old (42.3% ABV, NC)

Appearance: Gold, slow legs off a pretty sturdy necklace.

Nose: Sherry is more pronounced, with cinnamon covered vanilla custard, yellow raisins and some prunes, pineapple juice, some mineral notes. With time, the wood spices get some saltiness.

Palate: Watery and somewhat of a letdown after the nose. Peat, vanilla, pepper and some heather honey, but there’s a somewhat sour note with it. There’s a hint of butterscotch there too.

Linger: The linger is lovely, with peat and a bit of oak bitter notes and pepper. It leaves a lot of smoke in the mouth with that pepper. It’s warming.

Conclusion

There’s a little more complexity here than in the Spirit of the Bear, but this is, as advertised, a travel retail expression, and still caters to a pretty wide common denominator.

Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily if you’re looking for a decent daily dram.

Feb 142019
 

Highland Park is adding a series of travel retail editions which are intended to bring age statements back into the travel retail. The Highland Park Spirit of the Bear is the basic entry level of this new range, which also includes a 14 and 16 year old expressions.

Photo Credit: Edrington

This is a statement made by Edrington’s master whisky maker Gordon Motion, moving away from NAS whisky into age statement, a trend we’re seeing also with the Macallan. I won’t go into yet another discussion about NAS, but it seems that the pendulum is swinging back toward age statement, as the aged whisky crunch of 2012-2017 has abated.

 

Photo Credit: weinquelle.com

Highland Park Spirit of the Bear, Travel Retail (40% ABV)

Appearance: Gold, sturdy necklace with some residue.

Nose: Immediately reminiscent of the Highland Park 12. Hint of smoke on the nose, with a whiff of vanilla and toffee. Hints of red fruit, a bit of pineapple. There’s some light sherry in the background.

Palate: Citrus rind bitterness, with a bit of fruitiness. Spice (an assortment of peppers), a little creamy with the peat coming through in a second wave.

Linger: Pepper on tongue and around the gullet. There’s a sweetness on the tongue. Some bitterness remains and a dryness on the inside of the cheeks.

Conclusion

Made mostly from American oak sherry casks. I expected a little more from this expression. The nose and finish are really not bad, but the palate is a bit of a disappointment.

Feb 122018
 

There are few things more exciting than bottling a cask with your friends, having your name alongside theirs on the label, and cherishing the comradery and esprit de corps of the brotherhood of malt.

This cask was bottled by that reclusive group of whisky fanatics, WFFA, of which it is best not say too much. I will say that the group has been very good in keeping it’s core membership involved, and has already bottled two casks, the second of which will be reviewed when it arrives. I will say that it’s a 37 year old Bunnahabhain, and will once again feature the names of all participating members, including yours truly, on the label.

Photo Credit: Peter Steven Primich‎

 

Orkney 17 Year old, The WFFA ‘Kirkwall’ Cask, Hogshead 27, Distilled 2000, Bottled 2017 (58.1% ABV, NCF NC)

Appearance: Gold, tiny droplets forming legs running very slowly.

Nose: Somewhat floral, honey, heather, a note of pepper and a hint of cinnamon, with a milky note (not quite lactic, but “in the family”). An overlay of some vanilla and a dryness to it. Water strengthens the heather.

Palate: Honey and spice, peat and some fresh apples. The spice notes are very clear and dominant, and are complimented by the honey. Very pleasant, if not overly complex.

Linger: Spice around the gullet with pepper on the tongue. There’s a chalky dryness on the inside of the cheeks and a nice warmth all around. The sweetness remains in the mouth for a long time.

Conclusion

This one started out rough when first opened, but really came into itself after about a month of breathing. While not a complex dram, it has developed into a good, solid, bourbon matured expression, differing from the normal sherry matured whisky coming out of the distillery.

 

 

 

Mar 222017
 

The Fire joins the Ice in a series dedicated to the elements of creation in Norse mythology.

I tasted the Ice Edition on Orkney, with Highland Park Appreciation Society‘s Orkney Ambassador, Ian Moir, at the wonderful Shed Bar. The Ice is a 17 year old matured in ex bourbon casks, like the Freya (but sadly is not quite as good), and is presented at 53.9% ABV, whereas the Fire edition is a 15 year old which was fully matured in (some kind of) Port casks, and is presented only at 45.2%.

Using Port casks is a first for Highland Park, but I admit to still working my way through the cask description: 100% refill Port wine seasoned casks. What are these casks? They’re obviously not Port pipes that were used to mature port, that’s clear from the “seasoned casks” part. Thus, we must assume that it refers to second fill (or third fill, but not first fill) ex bourbon casks that were seasoned in port, and then filled with new make in 2001.

With that, let’s turn to tasting the whisky.

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Highland Park Fire Edition, 28,000 Bottles (45.2% ABV, NC)

Appearance: Copper, including a somewhat reddish hue. Thin legs running off a necklace, but very little left after a few minutes.

Nose: Malty with a hint of smoke, cranberry juice, ground cinnamon and not all that much more….

Palate: Not overly full bodied, smoky and sweet, with a hint of citrus (oranges) and some wet spices.

Linger: Cinnamon and very gentle spice, hint of mint and a bit of sourness. Leave the mouth somewhat metallic and dry….

Conclusion

I wasn’t overly excited by the Ice, and am even less excited by the Fire. I’m not really sure went wrong, but there’s not much there. Neither the Ice nor the Fire stand up to the Valhalla series expressions, and that’s a shame.