When you think of Highland Park, you immediately think of the gentle peat and sherry combination so characteristic of the most northern of major whisky distilleries in Scotland. Indeed, whereas over 90% of Scotch whisky is bottled in ex bourbon casks, Highland Park has sherry maturation as one of its five keystones. Additionally, Highland Park uses only traditionally “Scottish” sized casks: butts, puncheons or hogsheads. No barrels are used by the distillery, which makes this G&M TWE exclusive release of a 16 year old Highland Park in a first fill barrel special indeed.
Despite that, Highland Park has bottled expressions matured in bourbon casks, including the beautiful Freya and the new Ice, but those are rarities.
This cask adds quite a bit of spice to the whisky, and working with water should be done slowly, but this is a very enjoyable dram, showcasing some of the lesser highlighted qualities of the Highland Park spirit.
Gordon and MacPhail Highland Park 1999, 16 Year Old, TWE Exclusive, Cask 4260, Distilled 30/08/1999, Bottled 13/01/2016 (56.6% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Gold, very viscous, it coats the edges of the glass.
Nose: Fresh fruit and gentle spices with honey and floral honeysuckle. A seriously malty vanilla, with some very shy peat. Water allows some more fruit and a little more peat to come out
Palate: Honey and peat, with a lot of malt and a spicy freshness. Water takes the spice out for a dance, and highlights it, together with some more of the peat.
Linger: Peat, light pepper and honey, with a very creamy linger left behind. With water, you get some lemon drops on the back of the tongue.
This is a seriously solid dram, which on the one hand needs water, but you pay a clear price in turning into a true spice behemoth in the process. It highlights nicely what HP is like without the sherry.
Official sample provided by The Whisky Exchange.