Monday, January 30, 2023

Highland Park Cask Strength Release No. 2 Single Malt Scotch Whisky

- $120
- 127.8 Proof
- Orkney

As I've grown to love the wonderful combination of sweet and peat--peated Scotches matured in wine barrels--I've received various recommendations from my whiskey buddies over the years.  This was one such recommendation. A good friend of mine is a big fan of Highland Park, and after trying their 12-year, he insisted that I needed to have a run at their cask strength.

So, despite the somewhat hefty price tag, I relented and grabbed a bottle off the shelf. While I'm not sure what the combination of barrels were that went into this product, I was assured that a portion of the whiskey was matured in sherry casks, which would give me that sweet and peat that I love, but with a whole lot of kick with it coming in at 127.8 proof.

The nose was full of aromas to the point that I felt I was going overboard with my notes. I got an interesting blend of citrus and cinnamon right up front. That had a sweet wheat bread backing, as well as a bit of a graham cracker note. I also got a sweet tea note that I loved, and most surprising was a strawberry shortcake note, but heavier on the cake notes. I'm guessing that's where the sherry cask influence came in.

In the flavor I did get some of those fruit notes. Notably, I got some sweet raspberry and a bright plum note, some of the flavors I've come to expect from a sherry finish. However, those fruit notes weren't nearly as prominent as I would have liked.

I also got more earthy notes, including a distinct oak note, but without any bitter tannins.  I also got a sweet tobacco note that I really enjoyed, as it added a sort of richness to it without being in any way dessert-like.  The smoky note from the peat was certainly there, though on the lighter end, which allowed room for a nice cinnamon spice note, which was particularly noticeable on later pours.

Given the proof, it was no surprise that this carried a decent amount of heat with it. It also provided for a very oily texture and an exceptionally long finish. Those cinnamon, oak and just a bit of the raspberry notes seemed to coat the mouth, and I found myself taking time between each sip to just enjoy.

While I personally would have dialed up the sherry influence, I still really enjoyed this bottle, which seemed to get better and better with each pour, and I still can't get over how much I loved that finish!

Grade: B+

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