Highland Park Wings of the Eagle 16 Year
Peated Single Malt — Islands, Scotland
Tasted September 30, 2021
Rating: 17/23 N: Uh, oh. I'm getting a bit of meaty alcohol. Moving past that, I pick up some sweet spices and wood that make me think of a scotch aged in a fresh bourbon barrel. Vanilla. Some dry grass and smoke eventually come through, but this is not a super complex nose and that meatiness even makes it a bit off-putting. P: Much spicier than Highland Park 12! What initially hits me strikes me as an extra bourbon barrel finishing. Wait. this is called "Wings of the Eagle"...is that actually a reference to the USA and some extra bourbon barrel finishing? Well, if it is or isn't, it certainly tastes like that. I get cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, clove. Vanilla. It's rich and full. There's a really interesting balance here between regular Highland Park complexity and new scotch distillery finishing young with a fresh barrel (I'm looking at you, Glenglassaugh). Beyond the spices, there is definitely some rich and bitter smoke with enough of an herbal reference to suggest peat. I also get some of that usual Highland Park apricot sweetness, though not nearly as much as in the mainline releases. I really have to dig for the maritime flavor. This is smooth and the alcohol doesn't show through. The fresh cask finish probably is covering up some maturity though. Despite the spices, this release is way smoother than Highland Park 12. It's almost silky. Crucially, that sulphur from the Highland Park 12 is not present here! F: Sweet, rich, full. That bourbon barrel character is the main thing I'm getting, the usual Highland Park smoke and maritime hints do make it through a bit. - Conclusion - I'm not sure whether I like the general premise of this flavor profile better than the basic Highland Park 12 profile, but the lack of that sulphur punch makes this a lot better. This tastes more mature and balanced than The Shin 10 (15), but less complex. I'm inclined to give this the win because the complexity is fine here and it does a very good job with its core flavors. In terms of balance and complexity, this compares favorably with Nikka From The Barrel. This is a little rougher, but more complex and interesting. Does this beat Johnnie Walker Green (17)? Probably not. Eh, they're pretty competitive. The Johnnie Walker is smoother with more of a mellowed, subtle complexity. This has more opinions, spice, and burn. It's a tough call. I'll consider a 16 or 17 for this with the slight possibility that I underrated it in comparison to the Johnnie Walker and it's actually an 18. I think I'm going with the 17 because I found this to be very competitive with both Nikka From The Barrel and Johnnie Walker Green. That said, Johnnie Walker Green is a great value. This costs about twice as much, so it's hard to recommend this considering the price gap unless you're looking to fill a gap in your library that needs a reasonably mature scotch with a fresh bourbon barrel finish.
132.0 USD per Bottle