Highland Park Cask Strength...

Highland Park Cask Strength (63.3%): Today I have a sample of the newest addition to Highland Park's permanent line-up on my desk and to be honest it's the first time in more than a decade a new Highland Park release made totally sense to me... It's as simple and straightforward as it can be: An NAS cask strength Highland Park which will be released periodically every year with a batch number. No crazy names from Nordic mythology, no fancy packaging, nothing... Just a cask strength expression actually filling a very important gap in the distillery's portfolio in my opinion. It's blended from a mix of sherry-seasoned American oak casks and ex-Bourbon barrels and bottled at a whopping abv. of 63.3%.

Color: Light amber color with an orange hue and slow moving oily legs.

Nose: No alcohol burn whatsoever despite of its very high abv. Sour cream, leather watch straps and slight touch of sulphur. Damp lumber, dried currants and allspice. Adding a few drops of water opens it up but also dials up the sulphur quite a bit: Struck matches, toffee and pipe tobacco. Chocolate truffles, sauteed mushrooms and caramel latte. And now let's try a little more water: Aged rum, beef stew and cooked raisins.

Palate: Quite hot as expected but still drinkable... Red pepper flakes, cloves and honey roasted nuts. It gets much easier to drink of course after adding water. Canned peaches, nutmeg and Bunsen burner smoke. Sulphur keeps adding up in time: Pickled onions, overripe figs and grape molasses. I tried to add a couple more drops of water but it didn't help with the sulphur issue. There are also some very young whiskies in the vat... New make, century eggs and vintage leather jackets. Wet soot and mulled cider.

Finish: Long with fig paste, cooked prunes and dates. Black pepper...

Overall: Unfortunately it is not what I was hoping for... I was really excited and I really wanted to like it but it is young, a little rushed and definitely more sulphury than I can enjoy. It is obvious that they aimed sherry cask lovers but I really don't fit the profile. It's not you Highland Park, it's me... I hope the future batches will work better for me. Thanks to Koray Kaan Ă–zdemir a.k.a. Whisky Monster for generously sparing this sample from his own bottle and sending me.

Price: $90