I’ll be back to my Springbank obsession after a bit of the slowly developing Highland Park fun I’ve been having. Here’s the 12, which I’d never really sat down with before, and got to appreciate as part of the White Lyan Tweet Tasting, followed by yet another pair of stunning HPs from SMWS.
Highland Park 12 year old, 40% A
Nose - Comforting, waxed, sweet and toasty wood. A little cereal rawness but no problem. Some chocolate covered popcorn (always welcome) and fresh, clean cherry. A touch of teenagers deodorant (Lynx Oriental kinda thing), some sweet preserved lemon, and something herbal. There’s a sour note developing - swimming pool? The perfume brings me back. It’s rather good.
Body - Light, quite sweet, a little malt, a little toasty peat. Very mild, a little watery for my tastes, but nicely done. Some nuts and toffee.
Finish - Some fresh Marlboro. An oily delivery, quite long in the finish, and a little austere at the end. But very pleasant overall, especially the structured, toffee wood bitterness that develops right at the end. I do so value a whisky that takes you for a consistently interesting ride and leaves you wanting more.
What’s not good about it - Weak initial delivery. Lacks intensity overall.
What’s good about it - Rather good, classy nose and sees things through very well for the price.
SMWS 4.189, Highland Park, 13 years old, Cracking!, 59.4% A⊕+
24th August 2000, 206 bottles, first fill ex-bourbon barrel.
Nose - Initially wax, then blackcurrants and Ribena generally, some cherry, some balancing smoke and quite a lot of menthol and mint fags. Quite refreshing, as well as reasonably intense. As you progress, the mint becomes the main body of every inhalation, bookended by boiled lemon sweets, tobacco leaf and furniture polish. Extremely enticing.
Body - Sweet, sweet and chew bars, then sulphur and smoke. Citrus elegance, fruit and toffee. Lovely.
Finish - Long, long lingering wham bar, then long sulphur and wood. Finally, tobacco and wood shavings. So, so interesting, and deeply delicious.
What’s not good about it - Nothing, assuming you’re not offended by the menthol nose.
What’s good about it - Balance, complexity, refreshing, perfumed and masculine. No wonder HP are so adept at producing OB single malts when this kind of barrel is tumbling out into IBs.
SMWS 4.190, Highland Park, 22 years old, Big boys smoking in the sauna, 53.9% A⊕+
31st May 1991, 246 bottles, refill ex-bourbon hogshead.
Nose - Tasty, oaky, slightly restrained charred wood (although the bottle is newly open and could be a bit closed down), Marlboro light and sweet red cherry - which starts to come out of the closet more and more as you investigate. Light fruity wax and fresh tobacco leaf. An almost strict character, but hiding some rather delicious fruit. I can see it’s quite grown up, and what are they doing in the sauna?
Body - Ripe, sweet, but austere and wooded. Serious numbing smoke pokes it’s head out and then ducks back in. With water, the fruit and tobacco develop (as they will) but the intensity has gone.
Finish - Really sweet character develops, long toffee notes balanced by spicy wood. Very, very long and deeply sweet. Really double sided, with tropical burps to boot. With water, the peat starts to dominate, with more tobacco, and rather good it is too.
What’s not good about it - Not exactly a beginners malt. Quite challenging and austere, and weirdly two faced.
What’s good about it - Complex, fascinating, masculine and feminine. Uncompromising and very rewarding.