Peated Single Malt — Highlands, Scotland
Tasted December 30, 2020
It’s 2020. It’s December. Let’s shut this year down with a brand new whiskey (or whisky) every day. It’s my own personal whiskey advent calendar. +7! Dec. 30, 2020 This is the first time I have tried to understand a non-Speyside regionally, though I’ve seen other people do this before. My current impression is that the Highlands are my jam, with Loch Lomond, Compass Box (Spice Tree), and Highland Park being three solid new discoveries for me this December. And I understand the caveats that go into calling Compass Box a highland scotch, but the argument could be made. So I’m going to attempt to nail down expectations for this one. I’ll start small, since I’m still learning here. I’m going to assume low peat, juiciness, some sort of citrus, and an oily, sweet mouth feel. This is my final sample from the very generous @PBMichiganWolverine and so one more big thank you for the many experiences you’ve given me this December. Nose is low burn, but also low in scent. I honestly don’t get a lot. Oats, bran cereal, and a very low smoked meat note with some effort. Body starts off subtly, then builds. Holy cow that’s fascinating. Notes are orange and sugar initially, but there’s a sharp turn mid-body toward bitterness. I’m not sure what I’d call that note. On a bourbon I might call it leather, but it’s different here. I’m going to go with (don’t judge me) the taste of dried sweat on skin. I said don’t judge me. Finish has some smoked meat on it, maple syrup, baking powder, black pepper, baked bread, cinnamon. It’s a punch on your taste buds, and I dig it. I need to say something about the mouth feel of this whisky, because it damn near knocked me out of my chair a second ago. I often like a mouth feel that comes at you like a sine wave, where as the drink develops on your tongue you have changes in texture, you have rise and fall of how you experience the flavors, and you have some wrap-up of all those things that makes the drink feel complex and dynamic. This is not that. Even if you wrap in the nose, this experience starts like a volume dial at 1 that gradually cranks up to 11 by the finish. There’s a reason I got few notes in the beginning and a boatload at the end, and it was because of that ever-increasing intensity of experience. That first sip I thought my head might explode. I don’t know what that is or how they accomplished it, but I really don’t remember having that specific experience before. The flavors were all good, and perhaps with more of it I could have figured out more, but the first few sips were pure survival mode. I both liked it and was confused by it. I think this makes sense as a manifestation of my very fuzzy understanding of “highland scotch.” I was kind of off on the juicy/sweet bits, but the rest of it tasted like what I was thinking. I maintain that the highlands are my jam! ‘Tis the season. I’m day-to-day on my whiskey selection, so if you’re reading this and there’s something readily available out there you’d like me to enjoy/suffer through this holiday season, leave it in the comments. Merry whiskey to all, and to all a beer flight!