Upon the success of last year's Highland Park Cask Strength Release No.1, the Orkney distiller came out with the Highland Park Cask Strength Release No 2 in late 2021.
Highland Park Cask Strength was a blend of whiskies that are matured in predominantly Sherry seasoned American oak barrels. This year, the Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion decided to spice up the game a little bit and used a majority of Sherry seasoned European and American barrels as well as a small number of ex-bourbon barrels. The whisky also dialed in at a wild 63.9% abv (127.8 proof) this time.
Highland Park Cask Strength Release No 2
How Does It Taste?
Fair warning: Taste this whisky with a Glencairn glass. The other glasses which amplify the nose like the Blenders' Glass or Wonders of Whisky Professional tasting glass can overwhelm your nose as this whisky has a very high proof.
As you can imagine from my warning, the nose is already shouting and crazy with raisins, damp leaves, and it is well heated. European oak is not shy at all. There is a feeling of tasting an Old Fashioned cocktail as I am nosing carefully, like brown sugar, and aromatic bitters. As it opens up, I feel like I am standing in an antique room, a library.
The palate has caramel, ginger and cinnamon on the front with peppery undertones. A taste of yuca root blends in with some tobacco and creates an unexpectedly easy drinkable character.
The finish is very spicy with sweet smoke, ginger, toasted oak and licorice. A final explosion of black peppers makes it a very very long finish.
Where Does It Stand?
I can easily say that this is a different single malt than what I expected after last year. Instead of playing safe, Highland Park actually made a bold move by showcasing the qualities of the European Sherry oak they use. The palate is radiant with all the flavors and easy to drink considering such a high proof.
Highland Park Cask Strength Release No 2 is definitely playing around a huge spectrum of flavors and I am glad I have another bottle of this coming on my way.
Personally, I loved the balance of the first release. The second proof is wilder than the first one and can be a little bit attacking time to time. It looks like this will be a tradition and I can't wait for the new bottle already!