Highland Park Signatory 18 Year 1991/2010: 46% abv
Background: We’re back at independent bottlings with a 18 year old Highland Park. Highland Park, as a reminder, is an island distillery and holds the title of the most northern distillery in Scotland. They have a pretty loyal fan base, and tend to produce a wide variety of whiskies. This one sat in a sherry butt for 18 long years. Sherry butts are 500 liter vessels, and they tend to be less common than hogsheads. This Signatory bottling still has good presentation, having 46% abv, natural color, and no chill filtration.
Nose: The nose starts off with a good mixture of citrus and grain, with malt being a predominant aroma up front. There is a noticeable peat to the Scotch, with a considerable spiciness in the nose as well. The spice includes nutmeg and gingerbread. There is some vanilla and custard in the nose, with a smooth lemon and orange involved as well. There is some white grape acidity and other light fruits as well. There is some old leather and sawdust aroma, with the addition of light cocoa.
Arrival: The arrival starts off with soft, creamy grain notes, and some definitive citrus notes. The arrival has the smoothness of sweet grain, but doesn’t provide terribly complex flavors.
Body: The body really carries out the citrus, with slight amounts of malt. There is a little bit of agave, with some cinnamon and nutmeg in the body. There is a lot of lemon, lime, and orange in the body.
Finish: The finish introduces some tobacco and peat into it, retaining the malt and citrus notes from the rest of the whisky. There is some custard and spices in the finish as well, which add to the smoky, peaty flavor. There is an introduction of grapefruit in the finish as well. There is a salty coastal character in the finish.
Nose: The nose seems to be essentially the same after adding water. One difference between this and before water is a subtle raison smell that comes through.
Arrival: The arrival is more complex and citrusy than before water.
Body: There is a little more peat flavor in the body, with intense citrus and coastal notes coming to the front much more aggressively.
Finish: There is some custard and vanilla in the finish, with a large peaty flavor and orange citrus flavors dominating. The finish is still salty and coastal.
Final Comments: This whisky is an interesting one for sure, but it doesn’t deliver on all fronts. Surprisingly, it is worth saying that the cask quality of this particular whisky might be a little under par in comparison to many others we’ve had in the past, especially for an 18 year old Scotch. Although the whisky does exert some mature flavors, and a relatively decent complexity, it doesn’t seem to be competitive with other bottlings from Highland Park or Signatory. That’s not to say this is a bad whisky. It is still an affordable alternative with an interesting personality, and it is not hard to sip and enjoy.
Why you’d buy it: You’re a fan of Highland Park and want to see more dimensions of their whisky.
Why you wouldn’t: Your expectation for a sherried whisky is in the realm of Glendronach