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
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