I’ll start this review by saying that getting to taste two versions of what is to me the finest Highland Park up to the 30 (I didn’t taste the 40 or 50 year olds yet) is a special treat. I got to taste two 30 year olds here, but one of them was an Intertrade independent bottling, whereas this tasting pits two official bottlings head to head, and a very clear winner emerges.
The older version is up to 50% first fill sherry, and most of them are European oak. Here’s the official video tasting from the distillery:
You will note that in the new text on the website, all it says is “our 25 year old is matured using a very high proportion of first fill sherry casks”, and the feel is that they dialed down the sherry a bit in the newer version. Don’t get me wrong, though – If you didn’t have the pre 2012 version, you’ll ABSOLUTELY love the new one, it’s still the finest whisky in the range.
|Highland Park 25
Pre 2012 (48.1% ABV, NCF, NC)
|Highland Park 25
Post 2012 (45.7% ABV, NCF NC)
|Copper (deeper than the new 25), very slow legs and viscous.||Color||Copper, thin legs coming off a necklace.|
|Sherry and a hint of peat, honey, light dried fruit with dried apricot.
This is deep and very balanced, developing a lightly perfumy note.
|Nose||Heather honey, fresh, chalky, sweet anise, hay, ground white pepper, dry on the nose. The freshness is a surprise.|
|Sultanas and sour sherry notes, wood spices come through gently with cinnamon and hints of clove, hint of peat and some sourness.||Palate||Peppery (but nowhere near the 21 year old), the honey is under, some licorice and star anise, dry and bitter notes, and very balanced.|
|White pepper, sweetness on the tongue, the linger has sour notes and a dryness on the tongue.||Finish||Dominant pepper, bitters, hint of citrus, touch of peat. Leaves the mouth dry and somewhat powdery with a hint of sweetness.|
|This is an awesome dram!
The ultimate Highland Park, simply put.
The new 25 is an excellent dram, but this version simply runs circles around it
|Conclusion||You can tell the 25 and the 21 come from the same master blender. Both highlight the spice, though the 25 is far more balanced than the 21 on the palate.
That’s interesting, since the pre-2012 25 year old has a different profile altogether.
My overall conclusion is: Get the 48.1% version if you can still find it – it’s truly the perfect Highland Park!
Thank you Ishai for this double treat!