Saturday, February 03, 2007
Highland Park 18yo
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
NOMINATED in the 2008 DRAMMIES
*Bang for Buck
Vote HERE (before Mar 6, 2009)
This cold can't win!!! Week 5 of this malt mission is in the bag.
The 8th oldest (producing) distillery located WAY north on the Orkney Islands, it's time for some HP sauce. For now, Highland Park is the northernmost whisky distillery in Scotland as Blackwood distillery on the Shetlands is not yet producing whisky. Famously dubbed "the greatest all rounder in the world of whisky," (MJ) Highland Park is positioning itself to enter the top 10 selling single malts over the next 5 years and have launched their line in new, award winning, packaging.
Unusual for distilleries, HP's water is hard and many feel that this has a great influence on the unique character of its whisky. Only 4 other distilleries have hard water, and there is a myth that soft water is necessary for the production of good whisky. Highland Park is one of the few remaining distilleries that malt part(20%) of their own barley needs. The peat is cut locally and used to add flavour to the barley. Orkney played an important role in the two world wars (more on Scapa Flow). During WWII, the distillery's washbacks (10 Oregon pine, 2 Siberian larch) were used as bathtubs by many of the Canadian forces stationed nearby.
Spicy and sweet, honey, citrus, flowers, salt, cream. Slight smoke and charred wood. Cloves. Sweet and sour chinese food smell, vinegar, lemon, sugar and soy saltiness.
Smoke up front, which i didnt expect. Cocoa and ground coffee. Flavours change substantially in the mouth, very exciting. Sweet, salty and oily, like salted butter. Big flavours. I have left the chinese restaurant and am now getting a Greek restaurant. Seasoned rice, coal grill, herbs and vine leaves, olive oil. Finish is long and firm, active in all parts of the mouth, esp back corners by molar teeth, quite unusual. Sexy stuff.
I have two bottlings of this stuff on my shelf, one the old(er) packaging and the newest packaging(pictured right, above and below respectively). There are slight differences in taste and whether or not it is only incidental, it is still worth notin (The newer one is oilier and much sweeter, for example). Raises the question whether or not whisky distillers should cherish consistency so much, or rather celebrate the variety. They could start vintage statements on standard bottlings(like Macallan does?). I dunno. Anyways, have some if you can. It is not easily accessible at the price tag, but well worth the price in my mind. Especially as Macallan 18, for example, is at least £10 more expensive here and more than twice as expensive in Canada and the US(!)
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