A Highland Park that is sure to fly off the shelves – 13 years in ex-bourbon with the remainder of the maturation in a 1st fill ex-PX hogshead.
Nose: Burnt honeycomb, rum-soaked raisins and golden syrup give way to pan fats and oily rags. Orange zest develops together with soft toffee, nut bread and creosote. Smoke is highly background – a suggestion of coal dust, peat-imbued bung cloth, sea breeze and kelp. The addition of water offers brown malty bread together with roast beef meatiness and sides of gravy and dripping.
Taste: Rich, fatty and highly PX forward. Cinnamon toast and balsamic sit with dark cherries and orange marmalade, whilst cashews and walnuts are joined by axle lubricant, engine oil and fence paint. Gingerbread men develop together with spent coffee grounds, shaved chocolate and briquettes. Dilution offers a nice balance with some of the underlying HP character coming to the fore – rich honey, sweet molasses and candied peels together with ashtray and charry smoke.
Finish: Medium and still all the PX – brown sugars and overdone hob caramel with metholated oakiness and highly mechanised smoke.
On the one hand this Highland Park is unsubtle, brutish and blunt. On the other it is arguably delicious. The Pedro Ximenez has been allowed to run a riot here, subsuming much of the spirit character and offering in return a sweet, but industrialised richness that’s individualistic, but quite tangential from the underlying profile of the distillate. Nevertheless, I’ll repeat again – I still find this quite delightful. Perhaps more in step for sherry lovers than it is for diehard fans of #4?!