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.

Apr 162018
 

One thing that’s very clear from the latest releases by BenRiach is that Whisky Maker Rachel Barrie is taking the idea of creating core expressions for her distilleries very seriously, and with Glenglassaugh it seems that the search is on. In an interview for Scotchwhisky.com, she said that:

what’s amazed me about Glenglassaugh is that it is playing a beautiful tone off the still – so mellow, like a woodwind section. It’s got top notes like the flute and oily bass notes that carry it through. Glenglassaugh has the best design of warehouse because the air doesn’t change very often. It is quite a temperate environment and best for a mellow maturation. With the taller warehouses, you can find the casks at the top can get a bit spicy because they get more extremes in temperature. There are no extreme forces at Glenglassaugh; just slow and steady, mellow maturation. This is how you want to spend your life. A nice even pace.

Photo Credit: punchdrink.com

So as time goes on, we’ll be seeing some permanent additions to the paltry core range offered now by the distillery, which have so far failed to capture the imagination of the whisky drinking crowd. However, now the distillery released four wood finishes (two of them peated, and two unpeated) and it seems that the search is on for the permanent style of the distillery.

The four new wood finished expressions are Port Wood Finish, a Peated Port Wood Finish, a Pedro Ximinez Sherry Wood Finish and a Peated Virgin Oak Wood Finish.

Image result for glenglassaugh port wood virgin oak pedro

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Glenglassaugh Peated Port Wood Finish (46% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: New copper, slow legs.

Nose: Mineraly malt, light citrus notes with a clear presence of brine. The peat is definitely there, with berries.

Palate: Malty, floral, sweet and dry with a light hint of a very concentrated sweetness, not quite like honey, but maybe more like condensed milk (without the lactose) and sugar barley. While you definitely get the peat, it’s not overbearing.

Linger: Oranges and peat, dry and almost chalky, with a lingering sweetness on the inside of the cheeks.

 

Conclusion

Strangely, or maybe not so strangely given Rachel Barrie’s thoughts on Glenglassaugh, this expression edges out the GlenDronach Peated Port (see here), despite being clearly finished in the same Ruby Port casks. The two expressions are close, extremely close, but the Glenglassaugh edges out the GlenDronach thanks to the slightly more complex nature it has. In fact, I’d just do away with the GlenDronach and put this one in front, which is sure to give the marketing department a stroke 😉

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.