Highland Park 15, 2003-2018, 1st Fill European Oak Puncheon 1306, 58.1% – OB for the Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland

Longest. Title. Ever.

Anyway, this sherry’d Highland Park sits in my collection, waiting for a moment to be opened. When at Maltstock in 2018, it was used in a tasting by Jon Beach and Tatsuya Minagawa in their ‘Japan vs Scotland’ tasting. I seem to remember this one winning the round.

Luckily, for a proper review, it was also in last year’s Advent Calendar and I got to sit down for it properly.

Quite contrary to most of these private cask bottlings by Highland Park, the IWBOS (Independent Whisky Bars of Scotland, that is) are keeping their casks reasonably affordable. This one went for £ 90, I believe, while similar bottlings for Dutch cask owners often ended up around € 150. Of course, this is now sold out and selling on the secondary market for € 400…

Image from Whiskybase

Sniff:
Wet hay, fruity sweetness. Almost something farmy. Almonds en cherry stones, plums. Cherries, but also something ashy. A grassy ash, burnt leaves. A heathery dryness. Some beeswax, but also a crisp hint of ‘coastalness’. A whiff of licorice toffee.

Sip:
Surprisingly gentle at first, but there is some bite after a while. The slightly sweet sherry cask keeps that in check. Beeswax, heather, oak. A bit sooty, greasy. The bitterness of the almonds and cherry stones is present here too. Later on, the licorice shows up here too, with some bay leaf.

Swallow:
At first it’s pretty fierce but it mellows quickly. It continues with the licorice notes, and some baking spices. Oak, a hint of smoke, dirt.

As far as first fill sherry casks go, this one isn’t overly sweet and that’s a good thing. It gives more room to other flavors and aromas. Especially towards the finish. I like the complexity, and the addition of the slight sootiness, with the waxy notes too. All in all, it combines Highland Park with a whiff of Clynelish and a touch of Caol Ila. Some of my favorite distilleries.

90/100

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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