This Highland Park spent 22 years in an ex-bourbon cask, and came out a real beauty. It was part of the June 2014 outrun and was one of 246 bottles dubbed by the society tasters as “big boys smoking in the sauna”. The beauty of the SMWS, and all single cask independent bottlers, is that you get non distillery characteristic casks to taste, so one can see aspects of the spirit not seen in the official bottlings. A perfect example of this is the SMWS cask 1.156 Glenfarclas ex bourbon cask I reviewed here.
This expression is very different than the normal Highland park sweet and peat dance, giving us a spice and peat dance instead. This expression definitely has the Highland Park spirit, but goes in a completely different direction than the 18, both in peat levels and in the very strong spices it exhibits. At 53.9% it can take water, but doesn’t need any, and can be enjoyed neat, as well as with a some water. If you are adding water, I’d recommend doing so with a pipette, taking a break in between adding clusters of drops to see how it unfolds. As I said, the spice/peat interplay is a joy.
22 Years Old Highland Park SMWS Cask 4.190, Distilled May 22, 1991 (53.9% ABV, NCF, NC)
Color: Pale straw, with very thin and slow legs.
Nose: After the first wave of peat, clean lemon and honey with spring flowers. The HP character is there, but lacking the sherry sweetness. Lemon pound cake appears after a few minutes. With the addition of a few drops of water, the flowers come to life in a large bouquet sprinkled with touches of vanilla.
Palate: Very clean sweet lemon with honey and lots of pepper. Subtle notes of papaya and the peat is right there, lurking but not taking over, dancing with the lemon drops, without asserting itself over them. The addition of four drops of water made the pepper that much more pronounced.
Linger: Citrus sweetness, predominantly lemon, long linger that stays on the tongue, giving a fresh lemony taste that goes on and on with pepper in the back of the throat…With a few drops of water, a spicy serpent is released, and the finish with the water imparts a bigtime peppery linger.
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