Highland Park Cask Strength Edition No. 1
Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland
Tasted September 29, 2021
Rating: 13/23 I'm worried. I vaguely recall this getting less than glowing reviews. I also recently retried the Highland Park 12 and found that its youth brought with it a problematically strong sulphur flavor. I presume this is younger and more intense, so this might just be a blast of sulphur. N: Full and oily with sort of a scent of roasted pork tenderloin. A bit of wood and earth, as well as some bitter herbal character (peat?). This smells a lot less sweet and maritime than Highland Park 12. Given some substantial time to open up and putting it side by side with Highland Park 12, this has bigger meatiness with fairly similar sulphur. It lacks the sweetness though and has a bit more oil to it. The salt from the sea spray also gets folded into the pork instead. This is definitely less complex and further from the profile that I love in the Highland Park 18. P: Strong with a burn. Oily, but fairly clean. As it goes on, the usual Highland Park maritime character and apricot sweetness start to come out, with a bit more orange added. There's sort of that highland light malty sweetness with a touch of tartness. Smoke with a bitter peaty herbal character that's a bit flat (but that helps fill out the profile) lingers. There's a rich, full grassiness to it - not fresh grass, but more bone dry. A Some cinnamon and ginger. There's definitely a youthfulness going on here, with not a lot of wood or mature flavor showing through. Or at least there''s a clean, bland spirit a la Glen Grant happening here. Except there's also an earthiness with a few used green tea leaves and just a touch of oily coconut. Toward the end of the palate, there is unfortunately a big plop of sulphur. I was getting a bit optimistic about this one until that hit. The Highland Park 12 strikes me as more complex and balanced than this, but this benefits from the fullness and oiliness of the high proof, giving it a more rugged nature. Water adds some complexity and balance to the grass herbal profile, brings out a bit more sweetness with the addition of a little vanilla, and reduces the sulphur below the level I found in the 12. F: That rich, bitter smoke with sulphur. Some tartness from the peat. Occasional hints of sweet apricot. - Conclusion - Without water, this is pretty close in quality to Highland Park 12. I'm actually a bit relieved: I'd been afraid that this would be more intense and absolutely miserable. I'd probably put this a little below the 12, so it might land at 11. Adding water is a game-changer though. It doesn't make this a great whisky, but it makes it a lot more drinkable. "Game-changer" means in this case that it might be as high as a 14. I'm thinking it's a 13 though. That will be my overall rating for it. Thank you @ctbeck11 for sharing this. I'd been on the fence about it and decided against it, so it was great to get this opportunity to try it.