Until last month, my oldest Highland Park was a 22 year old Society bottle (Cask 4.190) which I reviewed here. Then, in a span of a few short weeks, I tasted two 30 year old Highland Park whiskies, one is the official distillery bottling and the other is a Gordon and MacPhail 1985 bottling (dating distillation to 1955).
Both are sherry cask matured, and interestingly, the OB is matured in second fill sherry cask, and the reason for this is to keep the distillery character with the light peatiness, as opposed to creating a total sherry bomb, which is what would happen were the casks not toned down a notch. Sadly, I have no such information about the older bottling, although it was clearly matured in a sherry cask. G&M are known for using their own wood, and more information was simply not available.
Photo Credit: whiskyintelligence.com
I had the G&M Highland park 30 as part of the I Did it My Way masterclass at the London Whisky show, where a character bottling was chosen from each of six independent bottlers. This bottle was taken from Sukhinder Singh’s personal collection and is valued at around £1500. The 30 year old official bottling will set you back £385. The OB 30 was shared with me by a good friend!
||G&M Highland Park 30, distilled 19.11.1955
Bottled for Intertrade (53.2% ABV)
||Highland Park 30
(48.1% ABV, NCF NC)
|Light bronze, slow legs with a residual ring
||Bronze, very long legs
|Gentle sherry, very old nose, mossy and earthy, apricot jam.
With a touch of water it gets sweeter, with dried fruit, the Dutch sweet
condensed milk in a tube and heather honey. Water makes it more
like the current HP.
||Very harmoniously Highland Park with the peatiness and sherry sweetness working together.
There’s percolated coffee with milk, milk chocolate, dried fruit, honey and the red sugar
coated apples from county fairs, with a layer of spices under it all.
|Sweet and smoky with pepper. The palate is not as gentle as the nose
and has some real kick. Fruit and peat.
Water increases the sweetness and adds a metallic sweet note.
||Spicy and sweet with pepper, chili, nutmeg, light peat, red apples and very dark chocolate (>85%).
|Very peppery, mint like after you just brushed your teeth with sweet
notes on tongue.
||Peat and sweetness on the tongue, spiciness in the throat, with a tangyness on sides of the cheeks.
You’ll find notes of chocolate
and nutmeg in the linger.
|This expression is an outstanding glimpse into history, as this liquid was
distilled nearly 59 years ago.It feels much older than the new HP 30, which I attribute to the cask used and the
style sought after back then.
|| Very complex with a nose I could smell forever. I think HP made an excellent choice
using second fill casks, as they steered the
whisky to keep the distillery character as
and not develop into an old sherry expression
of the dusty library type (even though that’s
actually one of my favorite styles).