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Highland Park 25 yo (2006, OB, 48,1%)

Being born, growing up and growing old on the Orkney Islands must be hard: so cold, so spleen, so much isolation… But if you are a whisky, it seems that being born, growing up and growing old in Kirkwall has miraculous effects: from the age of majority on, in fact, the Highland Park expressions we have tasted are real gems. We held for last what was judged “the best” at last Monday tasting, the 25 years old. The color is coppery, slightly darker than its 30-year-old older brother.

N: the 48% abv cannot be felt at all. The share of sherry casks, however, it can: black cherries, cherries in spirit; leather notes, sideways, with Cuban cigar tobacco; rhubarb. The typical notes of honey and wax are present, but discreet. Lots of chocolate, dark and also flavoured (orange and red fruits); candied fruit is strong, especially raisins (very intense), figs and dried apricots. All these aromas are made more ‘deep’ by a very pleasant vanilla; we would say ‘pastry’ (warm brioches, freshly baked pastries…). Maple syrup. Slowly comes out the oak, bringing with it the spicy side that we already found in 18 and 30 years (pepper, nutmeg).

P: nice and tough, it just attacks you in the mouth. The wax (and the honey next to it) is stronger, but the sherry roundness (still Mon Cheri praline/sultana/cigar) remains well present. We notice, at first laterally and later more and more decisively, some ‘minerality’, giving some extra edges to the overall harmony: light peat, even a hint of grass, just a bit of earth – ok, it’s a suggestion, we don’t eat the earth of flowers… If the 30 yo was the roundness made whisky, this is a bit rougher: but, indeed, it’s a quality, definitely not a flaw!

F: long, persistent, delicious. Peat and spices; the chocolate returns with decision, with cherries; a little hay, lots of wood, but without drying out. Sweet, after a while here is the orange marmalade.

If the 30 yo was a triumph of good manners and savoir faire, here the elegance is worn with contempt and declined with not rough but gruff ways, let’s say. The same reading is given both by Serge (here) and Ruben (here), but the interpretation of taste is different; anyway, we feel like adding a pinpoint to our 30 yo’s rating, just for those peaty, mineral and herbaceous notes that make the palate really delicious. For quality and intensity of flavors, balance and complexity, we can only propose the judgement of 91/100; the shared opinion of Gerry Tosh, global marketing manager of the distillery, is below, in the built-in video before the recommended background music.

Sottofondo musicale consigliato: Jackie WilsonReel petite.

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