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.
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.
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.
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.