Aug 28, 2011

two Highland Parks to ride out Hurricane Irene...

It's Saturday night, I am trapped at home and waiting for the Hurricane Irene to arrive Brooklyn. There are bunch of stuff to do when you are stuck at home like this but I think the best idea is to taste some whiskies:

Highland Park Leif Eriksson Release (40.0%): I purchased this bottle a week ago at Gardermoen Airport before I departed Oslo. Leif Eriksson is the name of the famous Norse explorer traveled to continent America from Norway around AD970 and I thought it will be a good story to bring a bottle of Highland Park's tribute to Orkney Island's Viking heritage when I was on my way back from Norway to New York. It is a duty free only release from Highland Park with no age statement and the whisky is matured in only ex-bourbon and American oak sherry casks. The idea of a Highland Park which didn't touch European sherry casks sounded pretty exciting to me. Color: Crystal clear straw. Oak aged Burgundy ChardonnayNose: Alphonso mangoes, figs and ripe apricots. Candied orange peel, faint char, vanilla and spring blossoms. If you air it longer a nice salty warm sea breeze fills in. Palate: Very light, citrusy and floral. Mediterranean citrus fruit trees, vanilla, distant burnt wood and sour plums. Quiet thinner than usual Highland Park expressions and extremely easy to drink. Finish: A very balanced medium long sweet finish with equal amount of citrus, floral and char notes. Overall: It's a very accesible and drinkable whisky with a unique maturation process. I didn't taste a Highland Park release before which is influenced so much from ex-bourbon casks and I really liked it. I think the abv should be slightly elevated though.

Highland Park Hjarta 12yo (58.1%): When I was trying to find a good pair for Leif Eriksson I pulled out the bottle I bought at the Highland Park distillery almost a year ago from my whisky shelf. Hjarta means heart in old nordic language and it's a distillery only expression which was also available at the on-line shop and in Scandinavia matured in ex-bourbon casks and European sherry casks. Only 3,924 bottles had been made available. Color: Dark, thick amber, clover honey. Nose: This is good... It reminds me somehow my grandparent's house. Cellar mold, vintage clothing, old wool sweaters. Adding water brings up ginger jam, thick honey, upside-down apple skillet pie... I literally lost the track of time. Beautiful nose. Palate: Way spicier than I though. I didn't see it coming from the nose. Beautifully balanced middle eastern spice mixes and heavy piny notes: pine nuts, resin, rosemary, cedar leaves, retsina. Very chewy. With some water it gets gentler: honey, pineapple and sweet wet barley. All surrounded by a gentle bonfire and charred wood palate. Finish: Very long, spicy and sherried grand finale. It starts with pine notes and fades to the sweet side with honey and honeysuckle. Very impressive. Overall: Like I said It has been nearly a year since I brought this bottle and despite my efforts to sip it very carefully there isn't too much left in the bottle. Especially after tonight's session, bummer... It's an exceptional whisky which reminds me a lot of Highland Park 18. If you still can find it online you shouldn't miss it.