ABV: 61.3% Distillery: Highland Park Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society Region: Islands
The near-obligatory monthly Highland Park – this edition is a 12 year old that’s been matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Lightly Peated profile.
Nose: Thick with gorse bushes, heather and hillside flowers, but with a strong coastal vein running right through the centre – brine and buttery seafood. Time in the glass reveals wild honey (well named SMWS), buttered bread and lightly charred BBQ’d meats. Water brings out a more medicinal side with hospital surface cleaner, ash and lime zest.
Taste: Sweet vs. coastal vs. smoke in a three-way grudge match. Opening similarly to the nose with an arrival packed full of wild vegetation – gorse, heather and St. John’s wort alongside smoked fish, roasted pork ribs and salted popcorn. The mid-palate offers lemon balm and honey, whilst maintaining a firmly smoked maritime profile. Reduction adds sweetness, with caramel sauce, whilst emphasising the peat influence with additional ashy smoke, bandages and antiseptic creams.
Finish: Medium to long with coal ash, bathroom tile grout, putty and smoked kippers.
Whilst categorised in the ‘Lightly Peated’ SMWS profile, to my taste, this HP doesn’t hold much back. Whilst unsubtle in its approach, its deviation away from the largely insipid OBs of late is quite remarkable. A much darker, more powerful side to Okney than you’ll find with anything covered in Viking nonsense.
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