Tasting Notes: Two Scotches To Try

March 14, 2023

Scotch is a type of whisky that is made in Scotland. It is typically made from malted barley, water, and yeast, and is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of three years. Scotch is known for its distinctive smoky flavour, which is created by drying the malted barley over peat fires. Here are two to try. Guillaume Garih

Highland Park 15 Year Old

North of Great Britain is Scotland. North of Scotland are the Scottish Islands of Orkney, where this scotch is made. Although their website describes the location as “beautifully remote, gloriously windswept”, I think lonely and bitterly cold is probably how I would experience it. The website describes it as “the perfect place for making whisky”, but I think it is the perfect place to build a boat and sail South.

Like a good Islay scotch, Highland Park 15 year old is peaty, or smoky. The nose is strong, with nuances of marmalades. The taste is peppery and deeply oaky, with a long finish. Highland Park has been distilled since 1798, and this 15 year old is in line with the Islay tradition of making peaty, bold whiskies. If you’d enjoy hanging out by yourself, on a northern island swept by cold winds, this might be your whisky.

Highland Park Cask Strength Release No. 2

By the time I write this review, please be aware that Highland Park‘s current Cask Strength Release is No. 3. I will nevertheless take a curious look at release No. 2.

When it comes to Islay scotches, there is something I have never wished for. That is for something stronger. Those whiskies are usually peaty, bold and peppery. Nevertheless, here’s Highland Park 60 per cent-plus “cask strength” release, meaning it is bottled straight from the cask, without adding water to reduce alcohol content.

Let’s take a whiff first. While there is a bite from the alcohol, the nose is rather inviting, reminding me of “Tarte Tatin”, the French upside down apple tart, caramelized and sour. The taste has a very strong alcohol bite so sip moderately! Underneath is a velvety array of marmalades. The finish is extremely long and will keep you warm for some time. Somehow, the peatiness is subdued by the high alcohol content. The experience is a bit like biting into a caramel fresh out of the pan.

This is not my first cask-strength release. I think they widen a brand’s offering. They do so by providing a unique, more intense experience to those who already love the regular product. For this peaty whisky, I think it dulls the smokiness a bit, but it also multiplies the caramel-like quality of the flavour. We are far from a rookie product. Consequently, I would only recommend this to experienced whisky drinkers.


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