Ok, so I’ve mentioned before the top five, which of course is a changeable list. Now, I’m going to talk about one of my top six. That’s right, six, because sometimes it’s not enough to limit the list to five – it’ll probably be up to seven before long. Highland Park 12 yr old, single cask and bottled exclusively for Oddbins in 2007. There were only 661 bottles produced – that’s why I’ve got two.
The distillery itself was established in 1798 near Kirkwall on Orkney, making it the northernmost distillery in the world. This is another dram which is more than deserving of patience and a good chunk of your time.
Firstly, just looking at it, it’s a beautiful dark polished wood colour with a hint of shiny orange.
The nose had a wonderful solvent pungency like treating your garden fence with creosote at the height of summer combined with the scent of the hot wood.
As this subsided sweet mulled wine came through with notes of rich oranges and cloves and chocolate just around the edges. When I added water (which is kind of necessary when you’re faced with 60.6%), it was bursting with fresh orchard fruit and pronounced sea salt, which all gave way to delicate polished wood and heather honey.
The palate was nutty, full of dry fruit and dried orange peel with just a touch of sweetness, changing to a salty dryness and lingering oak at the back of the throat.
Again, at such a high strength you won’t get the full benefit of the flavours without adding water. When I did the oak instantly warmed and moved to the front of the mouth, the saltiness also becoming more noticeable. After that a bright passion fruit sharpness livened things up, followed by toasted almonds over a bowl of oranges and lemons.
The finish lasted for ages with a delicately rich saltiness that lingered long after the last drop.
This is a really good whisky, I mean seriously good. It’s bursting with flavour and complexity, but it needs to be enjoyed over a long period of time to get the full benefit – I spent more than an hour on it and I reckon it could have developed even further with more time.
I mentioned water a couple of times, and yes, at 60.6% it’s a bit of a beast, but it wasn’t too overpowering, so you could easily get away with only the tiniest drop of water, or if you prefer, not at all.