Expression: 1995 Single Cask
Age Statement: 11 years old
Extra Info: Cask #1559, bottled in 2006 for Maxxium Belgium’s 3rd Rare Malt Tour
It’s no secret that Highland Park has been one of my favourite distilleries since I started drinking whisky. Their core range is one of the best of any other distillery’s core range if you ask me, and the 25 year old has been of my all-time favourite drams for years now. I must admit I’ve stopped following the brand closely ever since they started releasing things like Einar, Sigurd, Loki and Odin. That kind of commercialism is just not really my thing. However, I am planning to do a head to head tasting of the Walhalla series soon, of which I received samples recently. I would never spend that kind of money on a bottle of whisky that is less than 20 years old, but samples are a good way of having a taste of this type of whisky. This is the first time I’m tasting a Single Cask Highland Park and I’ve heard mixed opinions of this particular one.
Nose: Sulphur straight from the start. Like gunpowder, or what you smell after lighting fireworks. Sea salt and light smoke. Soy sauce (??). Dark chocolate and cinnamon. Salted caramel. Cooked fruits like berries. Tobacco and leather. Rubber, something like carpet glue. One of the weirdest noses I’ve ever experienced.
Taste: Strong, sharp, bitter spices. Clear sherry notes. Almonds and very, very dark chocolate. Dark roasted nuts. A big nutmeg note. Sulphur and salt again, leathery and wet tobacco. Light, flowery smoke.
Finish: The smoke is more obvious here. Bitter chocolate and spice, with some faint fruits in the background. Salted caramel again, with emphasis on the salt. Some sharp oak follows, with sulphur and rubber. In the end there’s smoky sherry.
Overall: This must be one of the oddest whiskies I’ve ever tried. It’s a rollercoaster of big, uncommon flavours. These flavours don’t really seem to find harmony, although that does make things very interesting. Is it good? Well, that can be debated. I’m sure there will be people who get excited over this, but I’m not one of them. They say that sulphur sometimes can bring an exciting or interesting element into a whisky, or that it can completely destroy it. I’m leaning towards the latter in this case, though I must admit that the sheer weirdness of this whisky is quite interesting to experience and therefor scores a few points more.
Rating: 3 stars (76-80 range)