On a recent visit to Edinburgh, my friend and I found ourselves at a loss with about 2 hours to kill, so, being whisky lovers, we decided to pay a little visit to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s Queen Street venue to pass some time. Any excuse right? While there we had 4 drams from some of the society’s recent releases which I decided to do reviews of, this review is of the fourth and final of those delightful drops. Click here to find out what the first, second and third whiskies were.
The last dram was a bit different to the others, it was exclusive to the SMWS’s Queen Street venue, it was cask 4.228, which, if you know your SMWS codes (you can find out more about them here) means that this one came from the Highland Park distillery, on Orkney. The details for the bottling are below:
|Cask No.||4.228 – Highland Park|
|Bottle Name||Catch of the day|
|Cask Type||Refill Bourbon Barrel|
|Alcoholic Strength||58.1% ABV.|
|Number of Bottles||300|
Exclusive to the SMWS, 28 Queen Street.
The final dram of the day, unfortunately we had a train to catch, came from the Highland Park distillery, the 12 year old of which was the first dram I ever reviewed on the blog so long ago! I wasn’t too sure what to expect of this, generally I love my Highland Parks, though I’ve had a few from the society that I haven’t been hugely impressed by. Aged 15 years in a refill barrel, with that touch of smoke, I was expecting a lot of similarities to the third dram, a 9yo Bunnahabhain.
Lots of toffee jumps out of the glass before you even get your nose close to it, which is joined by a slight briny, coastal note – salted caramel? – As well as a light wisp of smoke. It’s more coastal than most Highland Parks that I’ve had before but in a really good way. The smoke aroma is also slightly different from what you might expect from this distillery, it is more like smoked meats or fish. Toasted almonds and creamy vanilla custard push through, carrying a slight black pepper spice. Before sweet fruits begin to appear in the form of gooseberries and perfumed orange peel. At the last we are left with strong black tea and fresh coffee beans.
Really sweet butterscotch on arrival which dominates completely. The smoke starts to gradually build as the sweetness starts to move towards flavours of white chocolate and golden syrup. Burning heather and wood smoke drifts in in waves but this is almost too sweet to pick anything else up from. With a drop of water the sweetness does die down a bit, allowing more tropical flavours to come through, with pineapple and papaya, as well as a chilli heat. I think this one is just a touch on the sweet side for me.
The finish leads on from the palate; it is intensely sweet and packed with honey. It’s quite a cloying dram, though the addition of water doesn’t lighten the honey assault. The finish is long but fairly one dimensional.
Well, the last of four tasty single cask drams. I enjoyed this Highland Park, especially on the nose, though it was just slightly too sweet for me on the palate and finish. Drams like this, and the Third we tried, are the reason I love the societies bottlings so much. It is great to try these casks that are so different to what you can usually try and offer a truly unique experience. I will have to make sure that I don’t wait as long before I spend an afternoon in their again, it’s a great way to sample a wide range of what casks and distilleries can offer.