After reviewing Highland Park The Dark, I had a hard time finding a Highland Park that was interesting. There were too many single cask bottles around. Some of them were alright, most of them were not impressive and only a few of them were really good. Then Highland Park came up with this release called Highland Park Cask Strength Release No 1.
Highland Park Cask Strength is a blend of whiskies that are matured in Sherry seasoned American oak barrels. These barrels of different ages are handpicked by the Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion. The resulting whisky is bottled at 63.3% abv without any dilution or chill-filtration.
How Does It Taste?
It is not shy at all. The nose gives of damp wood and sweet smoke that reminded me of some Benriach expressions. Rich matchbox notes with a heather explosion turn into raisins, cinnamon bark, brown sugar, oak spices, a touch of grapefruit zest, and walnut.
The palate is creamy and juicy. Milk chocolate, nutmeg, caramel nougat, apricots and malty sweetness are distinctive. Frankly, after the nose, the palate showed a little less complexity.
The finish has an abundance of oak spices with a dry and peppery character. A waft of smoked pineapple changing into a dark tobacco leaf.
Where Does It Stand?
With Highland Park Cask Strength, I can see the Orkney distillers created this product to sail across a new taste profile. It has intense notes on the nose that differs from the younger core range whiskies. The palate is robust but less complex than what we are used to in older core range whiskies like 18 Years Old. I can easily say that Highland Park Cask Strength reminds me of the 12-Year-Old expression with amplified sweetness. There is a sulphury character which doesn't offend me at all.
I believe this was a whisky Highland Park desperately needed in the core range. This might sound pretentious but It can create an impact like a'Bunadh did for Aberlour in the latest years.