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Nose: sea salt caramel, peat, sherry (fruity), faint honey, toasted almond
Palate: sea salt caramel, sherry, honey. The nose and the palate line up nearly exactly.
Finish: crazy crazy crazy long finish. Smokey, Salty, caramel,
Note: another taste from Jared. Of course given the HP 18 is my favorite scotch this is likely to be up there as a top single malt for me. This is tasted neat. This is a very refined single malt. Extremely easy to drink, no pepper. The sweetness kicks this off with a wonderful smokey sea salt caramel that just lingers forever. This is exquisite.
For my 200th review, I decided to go for the 2019 version of Highland Park 30 that was bottled at 45.2%. Instead of going for a full bottle with the high admission price of $1k+, I was able to pick up two one-ounce samples from The Whiskey Exchange for a reasonable price. Before I opened the samples, I fed my orange cat some wet-food to calm his inner Scar which tends to sense fear followed by waiting with baited breath to strike his prey of an unattended whisky glass off the counter similar to watching Mufasa fall off the cliff before dashing off to hide and revel with glee of accomplishing his destructive deed. With him satiated after a cat style Thanksgiving dinner, I opened the samples, poured them in a glass then pushed it behind a barrier and let it breathe for about 30 minutes before returning to it to dive in.
The nose is soft and delicate starting with an initial sherry blast with cinnamon raisin cookies followed by ocean brine and light smoke underscoring fruits of grilled peaches, sautéed caramel apples, and fresh figs that transitions to light floral notes and minerality before fading to spices of ginger, cloves, perfectly balanced old oak and leather with light ethanol burn.
The taste is a medium mouthfeel starting with sherry notes of chocolate covered raisins along with cinnamon sugar cookies followed by a background of ocean brine and light smoke underscoring fruits of grilled peaches, sautéed caramel apples, orange zest and figgy pudding before a mild drying spice that fades to ginger, cloves, dusty library books and slightly ashy old oak with light ethanol burn.
The finish is medium length with dark chocolate covered raisins, caramel apple fritters, orange zest, ocean brine, ginger, cloves, light peat smoke, leather and slightly ashy oak.
This is a beautifully well composed whisky that starts with a light, delicate and balanced nose with a mix of sherry, orchard fruits, salt, smoke and old oak that carries over to the taste where the sherry is front and center before a backdrop of sea and smoke with orchard fruits that veers towards a mild dry spice that fades to ashy old oak and finishes medium length with dark chocolate, sherry, orchard fruits and ashy oak.
The balance is near perfect on this one, but my main gripe is that the flavors are so light with a thinner body and a slightly tannic oak spice on the palate and finish. This could have been a perfect whisky with a higher proof on it to ramp those flavors up and give it a better viscosity, but that’s my personal preference of being a proof ***** and loving 50%+ drams best.
Highland park 30
high pep, creamy, raisin, berry, cherry, high pep, dryness, some nice red fruits 2
oaky, flatness, bitterness, sourness 1.5
oaky, mid sustain 1.5
Margaret old bottle
high pep, cameral, sweetness, intense honey, chocolate 2.25
intense richness, thick complexity, chocolate malty, barley, caramel, oaky and woody, bitterness. I guess for a thirty years, you get a real richness and thick malt caramel - very dense and intense but you must enjoy that caramel/maltiness to enjoy this bottle - however, not for me 2.25
oaky woody, thick malt 2.25
45.7% edition. I debated making a new whisky but it seems distillers has let this travesty go on for this entire bottles life as now the 46% edition is out.
So just bought this today and I had to write about. I landed this one for 530 bucks after sales tax. Basically the store got a deal on these and wanted to clear out 1-2 at cost and I just happened to be talking to the right guy on the right day. What a freaking deal!
Nose - honey, slightly oakey cough syrup, dark fruits (raspberry dates figs), now the oak is opening up giving way to rum soaked raisins and vanilla. It's a near perfect perfectly balanced sherry and oak nose. Giving just a bit of bias to the sherry as I prefer and with some light salts that I hope show up more as I drink it. Simply wonderful.
Taste - Honey and vanilla remain with red fruits, but the whisky transitions into a peated and smokey, not beast, but far more of that assertive island note than expected. Likely heavily driven not by peat but by european oak casks. The opening is a sinfully rich sherry fruits and vanilla infused treat that turns peaty, spicey, and just smokey enough on the finish. I even get some dark chocolates finding their way into the finish.
The abv leaves this one slightly less oily than you might hope for, but the rich oak and decades of sherry flavors soaked in here creates what is a surprisingly flavorful sub 46% dram. Actually surprisingly flavorful for a 50% dram. This is just a flavor and nose explosion.
So score? I'm debating why this isn't a 5.0. Finish is long as hell. Complexity is up there with anything. Balanced in the best way possible. It has EVERYTHING you want from scotch. There's even an alcohol bite at such a low abv that I can't explain but I love it. The only flaw is the body and texture is a bit light, it's a step below the rare 5's I've given and I think I have to knock it there. I have 3 5.0's and one might not have been CS but it was over 48%. They all had the complexity and finish and offered a level of balance. But they were a touch richer. So 4.75.