husband, father, whisky lover, blogger, freelance whisky writer, and head of the New Jersey Whiskey Society & leading the USBG NJ efforts...currently the New Jersey Whisky Ambassador for Diageo & therefore leave the recent writing duties to guest bloggers, primarily that Bourbon loving fella named Gerard

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Highland Park 15

The Orkney Islands.  Nestled and secluded, this distillery takes its peat from Orkney where it is molded over decades on the heathery high grounds before becoming the fuel to smoke some of the malted barley.  Highland Park is usually an all around great one in my book, a ‘five tool player’ to use a sports term…they can do a little bit of everything.

It is honeyed and sweet up front, smokey on the back end, creamy and flavorful throughout…this distillery usually makes drams that have it all!

One thing that is cool about Highland Park is their use of Cask Harmonization, where basically each batch of whisky, after a primary maturation period in different types of casks, is vatted together.  Then they are returned to casks for six or more months of additional maturation. The older Highland Park expressions are “harmonized” for longer periods. This process intends to add consistency to the releases.

This 15 year old is matured in 30% first fill casks, and I was told mostly in American oak casks.  (in addition to Spanish Oak)  While this recipe will likely lead it to have a few different characteristics vs. the 12 & 18 which use mostly Spanish Oak, let’s see how it stacks up.

Tasting Notes:

Color:  Light Copper

Nose:  Floral, like a full bouquet of flowers freshly delivered, honey, certainly some ocean notes as well…complex and layered.
Palate:  Slightly sweet at first, but the citric style of lemon-limes is muted a bit by the honey, mid-palate the malt and smokiness evolves into baked sweets. (cinnamon/sugar)
Finish:  Cinnamon sticks and creamy maltiness, slightly spicy and extinguished fire smoke

A little bit of everything.  That is why I love these Orcadian drams!  But, let’s be blunt here…when putting this HP15 up against the affordable and fantastic 12 Year old, and the exceptional 18 year old, it is easy to see why the middle child gets neglected.  But, this bottle will not disappoint and like many middle children I know, it is a bit underrated. 

Score: 87

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