To remain on monitor with our promise to give you a have a look at a number of the extra widespread core vary expressions of Scotch, I’m going to take a wee step again towards Orkney. I just lately wrote about Highland Park 18; at the moment I’ll have a look at three bottles that I might name Highland Park’s “core” vary… nicely right here within the UK, anyway, however extra on that under.
Highland Park is a whisky that for a very long time was not all the time out there readily on grocery store cabinets, maybe giving it a little bit of a extra premium model branding. Nevertheless, in the previous few years it has began to seem rather more often on aisles of our extra widespread, giant named shops. I may simply stroll to TESCO or Sainsburys and choose up a bottle of Highland Park (once I say stroll, I truly imply drive).
This has made the model extra available to the informal drinker versus the extra educated aficionado. Maybe that is aligned with the whisky’s extra commercially-styled Viking branding, which makes it interesting and accessible to extra than simply the golden liquid connoisseurs? For no matter purpose, it’s now on the shelf.
So what three bottles am I speaking about? Nicely, they’re the Highland Park 10 yr outdated “Viking Scars,” the 12 yr outdated “Viking Honour,” and the NAS “Dragon Legend.” I might contemplate these three the “actual” foundation of the core vary. There may be the 18 yr outdated we’ve beforehand coated, and such bottles because the 15 yr outdated “ceramic” bottle, or the 14 and 16 yr outdated journey/responsibility free exclusives, and naturally there are 21, 25, and 30 yr outdated expressions. The supply of those might be sporadic to say the least, and the associated fee might be prohibitive to many, with the present 21 yr outdated rolling in round £240 ($275) for 750ml. One other bottle that I wish to share with you (however can’t) is the NAS “Magnus.” For a lot of that is seen as an “entry degree” Highland Park, however though made right here in Scotland, its solely out there within the USA… I simply can’t get a bottle!
So, the three chosen drams are those that I can stroll as much as at the moment and buy in retailer for much less that £50 ($57)
Highland Park is a peated whisky, however for a lot of it’s a extra accepted peat, maybe lighter and simpler on the palate. Tt can push the boat out on some expressions however – being trustworthy – in the event you’re a peat fan there are various different drams to discover away from Highland Park to fulfill your repair. Even my buddy Mark who admits to “not having fun with peat” truly enjoys Highland Park… go determine.
Highland Park 10 Yr Previous “Viking Scars” – Assessment
Color: Mild gold
On the nostril: A delicate sherry affect, and once more a delicate smoke lingering, barely spirity, however not spicy.
Within the mouth: A Spicier style than on the nostril, maybe some ginger cookies, waxy citrus peel. Maybe sweeter that citrus bitter, there’s that Highland Park earthy model peat (it’s my key tasting observe in Highland Park) and as with the nostril there’s a light sweetness of the sherry cask maturation. Salty, smoky, slight pepper, medium end.
Nicely it’s most undoubtedly not a foul dram. It’s nearly refreshing to my style; it has a malty and lightweight mouthfeel. It’s a kind of drams that I don’t assume may ever be known as advanced, its extra a kind of that you possibly can pour and sip and revel in, however with out actually distracting you from you job at hand. Studying a guide or watching a film, you desire a wee dram however actually you don’t wish to lose the focus you have got. At round £35 on a foul day, £25 on supply, it might be price a go to
Highland Park 12 Yr Previous “Viking Honour” – Assessment
Color: Mild golden bronze.
On the nostril: Recent, fragrant. Creamy, notes of honey come by; it’s candy but smoky.
Within the mouth: It’s fairly a deep dram, in that there’s a slight depth initially, maybe considerate on the preliminary sip. Fruity, juicy, maybe an natural tea, and that compost heather model of a peaty smoke, coated in a wee candy case. On the end: pepper, spice, herbs, smoke… longish.
Nicely, one factor is for me it’s not the identical as above; it’s not the identical dram simply left for 2 extra years! Whereas in idea the casks utilized in maturation are the identical, I believe the mixing executed to complete this 12 yr outdated produces a unique liquid. Extra thought to the drinker on this dram, however in some respects I believe I choose its youthful sibling above. It by no means is undesirable, and I believe on a unique day I’d get pleasure from this greater than the ten. I assume if the worth is correct I’d assume this higher? Once more, this rocks in round £35 on a foul day, £25 when on supply.
Highland Park “Dragon Legend” – Assessment
Color: Mild bronze.
On the nostril: Dried reduce grass, or a stroll by a freshly baled subject, possibly stopping of for a glass of sherry or crimson wine on the way in which. Some slight sweet sweetness.
Within the mouth: Peat! This hits heavier on the peated aspect than you’ll find within the two earlier drams. It’s there from the primary sip; it does give technique to that sherry… maybe sherry-soaked darkish fruits, Christmas fruit cake springs to thoughts, wholesome and lip smacking. On the end, the Christmas spice is there, maybe with some citrus; it’s lengthy and moreish.
That is extra akin to one thing a peated dram drinker would get pleasure from. It isn’t pretending to have peat in it; it’s there, unhidden, however like the opposite two it has nonetheless obtained and air of being clear and contemporary about it. This one, maybe greater than the opposite two, is accepting of its earthy peaty-ness, relatively satisfying. The worth on this may shoot to the dizzy heights of £45, however might be discovered dropping to round £32.
Highland Park, has, for some, develop into a extra fashionable individuals spirit than the aficionado’s dram. I’m not in opposition to that; I’m a kind of individuals whom needs everyone to get pleasure from Scotch whisky. If making it extra engaging to a sure age group or buyer base means some rebranding each from time to time then, yeah, why not? The purists on the market will in all probability shake heads, inform me it’s all gimmicks and many others. However on the finish of the day whisky producers – in all reality – usually are not there to cater to the aficionado; they’re there to supply to everybody. No mater our private desire, whisky is for everybody, get pleasure from it the way you need. As a Viking would possibly say: Skål.