Please take into account that these are my personal tasting notes and personal experience, as such you may interpret any whiskies very differently from me.
I am a huge Highland Park fan! I want to make that clear from the very outset in case you feel there is an overly enthusiastic vibe from this post – no it’s not your imagination, I really am enthusiastic about all things Highland Park! One of the main reasons for this is that their 12 year old expression was the first whisky that made me appreciate the water of life. I’d drunk whisky before but never really got into it, then I tried Highland Park 12yr while in Orkney. It was in the Stromness Hotel, in their whisky bar. I enjoyed it so much I went out and bought a bottle the very next day and there started my love affair with whisky!
So when I saw that The Birmingham Whisky Club were running a Highland Park tasting as part of their 5th Birthday Celebrations I knew I had to attend… By the way a HUGE congratulations to The Birmingham Whisky Club on having been going for 5 years (read more here)! I look forward to seeing what they have to offer in 2017 – check out their website for events already in the diary including their Whisky Birmingham Festival in March which is selling out fast!
An Evening with Highland Park:
The evening offered the opportunity to learn more about Highland Park with Joe Ellis, whisky expert and Brands Development Manager from Maxxium, ‘the Masters in Whiskies’ and taste through a delectable selection of six drams, with the fine folk from Highland Park.
The line up for the evening consisted of:
- Highland Park New Make Spirit
- Highland Park 12
- Highland Park Dark Origins
- Highland Park 18
- Highland Park 21
- Highland Park 25
This whisky tasting was different from some of the other events I’ve attend for two reasons. Firstly it offered the chance to taste a series of expressions from one distillery starting from their new make all the way up to 25 years. This was fantastic as it allowed you to follow some of the core components of their whisky all the way through their range. Secondly Joe who was running the tasting did a great job of going over the basics of whisky tasting and a good introduction on how to start making tasting notes. This allowed some of the attendees who were new to whisky tasting to really get involved.
Highland Park New Make Spirit:
If you’ve not experienced new make spirit before then I highly recommend giving it a go. New make spirit is basically whisky before it becomes whisky. In order to become whisky it needs to be aged in oak cask for a minimum of 3 years and 1 day. I find it fascinating to see what you get before the influence of an oak cask, it allows you to see what has influenced the spirit before the oak has its turn.
Nose: Young spirit – I always think of cheap tequila when I get that young spirit nose from a new make. Beyond the young spirit is a touch of barley and a hint of citrus.
Palate: Sweet and smoky with a chocolate note.
Finish: Sweet, smoky and that chocolate coming through again. Thick and lingering.
Highland Park 12 Year:
This is a long time favourite of mine! Brief tasting notes are below but my full notes from a previous tasting can be found here.
Nose: Sweet, sherry, fresh, heather, honey and brown sugar.
Palate: Sweet and creamy, a touch of sherry and a good dose of smoke without being overpowering, spice and oak.
Finish: Long, smoke and spice with a touch of oak. Slightly drying.
I’d tried this once before and again you can find my full notes here. I have to say I enjoyed it a lot more this time being able to spend a bit more time with it.
Nose: Spices, cinnamon, vanilla and a nutty chocolate note.
Palate: A mix of peat and chocolate -dry and sweet, with a hint of fruit but not very strong.
Finish: Long, sweet, mix of peat and chocolate as on the nose.
Highland Park 18 Year:
Nose: Sweet and smoky. Fudge, salted caramel and a slight milk chocolate underneath.
Palate: Fudge, sweet smoke, creamy with a slight spice although only a hint of it.
Finish: Sweet, slight smoke and slightly nutty.
Highland Park 21 Year:
This was my first time trying the 21 year old, however coincidentally I had also won a bottle of it the day before through Master of Malt‘s #whiskysanta competition – if you’ve not heard of it before then you should definitely check it out! My notes below are only brief but I’ll be adding some more detailed notes for this one in the near future.
Nose: Sweet, heather, fruit with a slight citrus note again.
Palate: Sweet, smoky and fruity.
Finish: Tropical fruit, creamy, slight spice and smoke.
Highland Park 25 Year:
Finally we got to try the 25 year old expression. This one was absolutely stunning! So much so I kind of lost myself in it and didn’t write as detailed tasting notes as I probably should have done. If you ever get a chance to try this then I strongly advise you to try it!
Nose: Honey, heather, sweet and floral. Marzipan, spice and caramel.
Palate: Sweet, honey, fruity, slight smoke, thick and oily (mouth coating).
Finish: Sweet and long lasting, this one really hangs around.
Once again I am a huge Highland Park fan so I’m quite biased here but this was an amazing night, probably my favourite tasting night so far from The Birmingham Whisky Club.