Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: 12 yrs.
Proof: 86 (43% ABV)
Maker: Kirkwall, Orkney, Scotland (Edrington Group)
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A note on spelling. In spite of popular opinion, there is no difference between whiskey and whisky. Whisky is how the word is spelled in the U.K. and Canada. Whiskey is how the word is spelled in the U.S. and Ireland. Both spellings indicate a spirit made from grain and aged (with the exception of corn whiskey, which may be unaged). To confuse matters more, some brands of American whiskey, like Old Forester, Maker’s Mark and George Dickel, use the e-less spelling. So, in short, it’s not worth getting too worked up about spelling.
It’s no secret that bourbon is my spirit of choice. But when I first started exploring the world of spirits, I drank quite a bit of Scotch. I moved away from it, but from time to time I do find myself feeling the urge for Scotch.
Highland Park is my kinda Scotch. It has a little bit of all the things that make Scotch Whisky special. It has all these things, but instead of being busy, all the elements hang in beautiful balance.
The color is light, like honey that has siezed up in the bottle. I like that a lot. I like it beacause it shows that it is free from the pencious caramel coloring that many Scotch distilleries add to their product. One of the differeces in American whiskeys and Scotch whiskeys is that Scottish makers are allowed to add coloring and flavoring to their product, other than that which comes from the barrel. In the U.S., no bourbon or rye is allowed to add anything artificial to the whiskey and still call it bourbon or rye(unless they label it bourbon + X flavoring, for example). Also, any whiskey called a “straight” whiskey in the U.S. must be aged in new charred oak barrels, while almost all Scotches are aged in used oak barrels, many of them old bourbon barrels! This makes straight American whiskeys naturally darker than their European cousins. So a light color indicates a young bourbon, while the same indicates an additive-free Scotch.
At any rate, the nose on this whisky is a typical Scotch nose (much like my own) but not obnoxiously so. The smoke hits my hooter first, then a bit of peat, then a lucious flowery sweetness, like wildflower honey. On the palate it is quite sweet at first, then peat rushes to the fore. It then does something very interesting. The sweetness fades to a long, quite dry finish. The wood begins to come through in the finish, but the smoke and peat maintain their forward position.
This is one of Scotland’s best, beloved by connoisseurs and dillatantes alike. I have a feeling that my cupboard will not be without it for very long after this bottle is gone.