Seven refill hogsheads and one refill butt walk into a bottling plant…..
This isn’t the beginning of a joke, rather the story of this gorgeous expression, the second in the Highland Park Orcadian Series, bottling old vintage bottles. It started with the 1964 and includes the 1968, 1970, 1971 and the 1976 vintages. The 1968 is relatively lightly peated compared to the Highland Park standard (it turns out that wind has to do with the amount of peat the barley can pick up in the kiln based upon the amount of wind. I assume this has to do with the speed in which the smoke gets pulled out the pagoda chimney roof). Apparently, 1964 wasn’t very windy, and the whisky came out heavily peated, whereas 1968 was very windy, and the whisky is very lightly peated. Being that casks are distilled regularly throughout the year, and wind levels vary even in “non windy” years, I thought that the claim is a bit of a stretch for eight specific casks. But maybe weather records are kept in a log for each barrel for 40 years, who knows…..
Highland Park 1968 – 40 Year Old Orcadian Vintage, Bottled 2009, 1550 Bottles (45.6% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Amber, tiny little legs rolling off slowly with a lot of residue.
Nose: Heather honey, vanilla, dried fruit (apricots mainly), hint of peat, stewed fruit and light wood spices, specifically light cinnamon and nutmeg. There’s also some bubble gum and the lightest hint of star anise. After some time in the glass, a hint of balsamic vinegar appears, and the malt also makes an appearance, which is surprising after four decades in oak. The peat is a bit more present after the glass is covered for a bit and then nosed.
Palate: Light, not as full bodied as I would have expected, with white pepper and cinnamon bark and a bit of sour note and a touch of citrus bitterness. The whisky dries the tongue upon contact. There’s almost no peat there, although it’s a bit more noticeable on the second sip.
Linger: Spice on the tongue, a dryness with an underlying sweetness. There is a long effect all the way down the gullet, with a hint of peat coming through in the mouth after about two minutes. The peat remains far longer after the second sip.
This is a beauty. Clearly Highland Park,
Ishai, Highland Park should make you an honorary Orcadian….You’re the man!