A high quality but entry level scotch. Excellent choice for a starter scotch.
Notes: One of only two distilleries on the Orkney Islands ( the other being Scapa). Founded by the “whisky priest” Magnus Eunsson in 1798, (preacher by day, moonshiner by night – similar to Elijah Craig). Highland Park has a number of of unique points, first the peat used there is almost all heather and so contributes a good deal to the flavor and bouquet, further this peat is still cut by hand, an arduous process, usually not seen anymore. Another labor intensive process they still use is turning the malted barley by hand during the peating/smoking process .Further points are the use of sherry casks (costing ten times more than the industry dominant bourbon casks) and the the water which is fairly hard, giving it a nice mineral backbone.
Appearance: Pleasing gold amber, nice edge line on the glass when you swirl it, smooth layer of whiskey on swirling eventually producing some legs.
First Impression: Medium to light peat smoke, orange peel, honey, heather, leather, sherry, malt/toffee, nuts, and oak.
Taste: Nice oily/slightly fatty feel to the malt. Medium-weight mouth feel (for a scotch). Complex layers of heather,orange peels, leather, nuts and spice, and a touch of sweetness. Finish is long, dryish with some sweet notes, citrus, oak, spice, minerals,
Drinks: Use a decent spirits glass (Riedel or better yet Celtic Malts Spirits Glass) glass if you are going to sip and savor it – with a small splash of (nonchlorinated) water if you like. A very versatile yet complex scotch it is very good in a Rob Roy, Blood and Sand or many other scotch based cocktails where you want a complex but not overly peaty scotch. Also the price is cheap enough to make it a affordable higher end mixer (see our Cocktail Math for a price comparison of good vs bad mixers- you might be surprised).
Cigars: Yes, but something light – try a Natural Wrapper or Connecticut Shade Ashton maybe?
Bottle: Clear glass- shows whisky to good effect. Bottle is a slightly flattened oval flask shape with rounded shoulders and slight bulge to neck. Simple somehow eyecatching and muted at the same time paper labels. Black foil neck wrap with silver lettering (EST-1798) and cork closure finish the package.
Final Thoughts: Nicely complex and balanced, not overly peaty or smoky, but with a nice finish. Lets you know you are drinking scotch and not iodine .
Recommended as a good entry level and all around scotch for sipping or mixing. Good value and has enough elements to please just about anyone.
Good site with fair amount of information. Well laid out and easy to navigate (unlike some other websites we have encountered recently). Just about everything you need to know including visiting and even how to charter a plane and tour of distillery!