Apr 172018
 

Highland Park Full Volume

47.2% abv

Score:  87/100

 

The Blasda of the Orkeys.  Had to be said.

Malts like this to, to me, are kinda like CCR touring without Fogerty.  Or the Doors continuing after Jim Morrison died.  You may still be trading off a well-established brand, but ultimately you’re not really giving fans what they want.

Highland Park without sherry is neat, but it’s not Highland Park.  Just as Blasda was a cool as hell Ardbeg (and, contrary to what you may have heard, very good), but let’s face it…it was just barely an Ardbeg.  Full volume is a bourbon cask-driven version of our Orkney darling, rich in soft vanilla, clean spice and firm oak, but lacking in the oomphy, gooey dried fruits that work to enhance that smoke and slightly peaty tang.  It is decent enough malt to be sure (and the price point is just over half of what the regular 18 is), but I probably wouldn’t reach for this one very often.

And dear lord, that packaging.  Bad.  So bad.

I’ll stick with my HPs with some age and sass to them.

Nose:  Vanilla and very clean smoke.  Homemade fruit salad.  Pepper and ginger.  Orange and mixed berry scones.  A touch of artificial cherry. More orange.  Peppered custard.

Palate:  Smoke.  New tooth picks.  Opening a fresh ream of paper.  Faint white pepper.  Overbaked pie crust.  A lot of fruit, but there’s a slightly too strong oak thread running interference.  Good mouthfeel.  Good arrival.  Then…it’s kinda downhill.

Thoughts:  Not bad, but rather pointless.

 

– Image & words:  Curt

 Posted by at 3:49 pm
Apr 082018
 

Highland Park Fire

45.2% abv

Score:  80/100

 

One of two in this mini-series from Highland Park (I think this one came out second, actually.  We’re probably doing this backwards, but oh well).  The Fire Edition is a 15 year old malt finished in refill port wine-seasoned casks.  I have no clue what that actually means.  Same concept as sherry-seasoned barrels, I assume.  So…are these full pipes then, or maybe just hoggies?  No clue.  Anyway…

Nose:  Slightly muddled and barnyard-y.  Nutty.  A touch of rubber and some peat, of course.  Suede.  Faint coffee.  Damp hay.  Pepper and chili.  Cinnamon.  Faintly floral (dead, faint potpourri).  And an organic earthiness that isn’t entirely pleasant.

Palate:  Earthy and dirty.  Slightly cardboard too (almost cork taint-ish).  Orange.  Herbal and kinda leathery.  There’s a touch of smoke and an organic peatiness, but its all rather restrained.  A drying sensation at the back end (some tannins from the port, I imagine).

Thoughts:  Ultimately…not awesome and rather boring.  I expected bigger and bolder.  

 

Highland Park Ice

53.9% abv

Score:  81.5/100

 

And the other in the series.  Ice was a 17 year old HP composed from ‘rebuilt first fill bourbon’ casks.  Ummm…aren’t they all?  Or is they again just referring to inserting a few staves in the ‘bebuild’ and being able to call it a hogshead.  No matter.  More importantly, I suppose, these have been capped with virgin oak heads.  That should bring some spice and fat vanillins, no?

Nose:  Definitely noses as the fruitier of the two.  Quite some eucalyptus.  Peppered melons.  Floral notes (heathery).  With a touch a bubblegum.  Marzipan.  Cinnamon cookies.  Faint whiffs of peat and a soft smokiness.

Palate:  Vibrant – definitely moreso than Fire – but sharp and tangy.  Ginger.  Almost wine-y (ironic, considering Fire was the port-seasoned malt).  Lemon pepper.  More peat here.  Citrus.  An almond sweetness.

Thoughts:  Meh.  I do like it better of the two, but it’s still just okay.

 

Wrapping up:  Over-packaged.  Over-priced.  Over-promised.  Under-delivered.  Anyone else over Highland Park’s Viking obsession?  Once one of my unquestionable favorite distilleries has become a rather sad triumph of style over substance.  I’ll stick with the 12 year old.  It’s the only one in the range that offers any value (seeing as the 18 is now $220, the 21 about $350, the 25 running at almost $800 and the 30…fug.)

 

 – Image & words:  Curt

 Posted by at 9:24 am