After I posted my review of the NAS Highland Park Voyage of the Raven, I noticed that it was the first and only HP review I posted and since I didn’t really like that one but do like Highland Park very much, I thought I should post some of my older reviews of different Highland Park bottlings. This review is about a year old.
Gordon & MacPhail Exclusive| Highland Park | Cask #1485 exclusively bottled for The Whisky Mercenary | Distilled 1995 – bottled 2015 | refill American Hogshead | 50% |
Situation: On the bed in my hotel room after a rather long day of seminars, I just found out that I have zero music on the iPad, so there is none…and later, after a nice walk, and I finished the sample while posting my notes.
Nose: Rum raisins, brown sugar, mild oak, dark grapes, sweet pickled plums or sweet fruits, and smoke. There is also a light floral component I would ascribe to violas. Reading the description of the nose might sound like a thick, dark, syrupy sherry malt but actually it’s, well, not light but the light or airy version of the described nose if you can follow me here? I would attribute some/most parts the nose to a bourbon cask. Would be interesting to know, what was in that refill American Hogshead before! Heck, what does that even mean?! Also, I always come back to the smell of wet hay but maybe that’s just because the color woke that association?
Palate: Very powerful entry for 50% – I was a bit shocked, honestly, as I expected a typical creamy, chocolate-y indi HP entry…not bad though. Strong pepper (Talisker-esque), slightly buttery, nuts, dark grapes, leather and some laid back smoke lingers above it, a bit of a creamy mouthfeel. I think it’s the oak which creates the illusion of hay for me here.
On a second go, the entry is softer but the palate is still very Taliskeresque, a little more creamy then before, buttery, milk chocolate, smoke (not the typical dominant Islay smoke but quite HP typical), a not very pronounced mint note and oak. So, this needs some air to improve a bit.
Finish: Dark chocolate, deep black coffee, drying oak, peppery bits remain for some time, nice finish but dominated by the peppery aspects, not as tannin and drying as you would expect after 20 years but quite noticeable oaky drying during the whole finish.
Better on the second turn: strong dark mocha, white pepper, oak and again hints of mint and chocolate.
Conclusion: I’ll come back to this and finish my notes later after another dram. Right now, I don’t feel like I got the most out of the dram and that there is more to it which I couldn’t pick up right now. [Enter a nice walk, some beers and football and returning to the hotel room here.] After the second turn, my praise for the dram has gone a bit higher, still I think I would prefer the OB 18 to this. I can’t really put my finger on why, but even though this has a bit more “character” or rather power than the 18, it is also a bit flatter on the palate. Again, I’m not sure if you can follow, but I’d say it’s simpler but stronger…Some air helped quite a bit to improve it and I really enjoyed it but I wouldn’t track down a bottle of this, there are other, better, independently bottled Highland Parks. Still, you should get an indi HP!