tiistai 20. kesäkuuta 2017

9 Highland Park single casks in comparison 19.6.2017

Ok, gotta write another one in English, since I've been doing quite a lot of bottle swapping myself and it will be nice to share this with some friends. So hang on there.

Highland Park has been raising its profile lately with a series of single cask whiskies. HP has been releasing lots of strange bottlings with adventurous names during these past years but only these 20+ single casks for different countries have really created a phenomenom of which propably the craziest sign is the 905 Euros paid of the Highland Park 13yo single cask for the whisky Clubs in Finland at the whiskyauction.com in May 2017. The original price for the bottle launched in December 2016 was 99 Euros. Most of the other bottlings have been selling for 300-400 Euros. The buyers have been mostly collectors so not too many of them have been drunk. Luckily a couple of members of the Finnish Malt Whisky Society did a great job gathering some of these single casks for the club members to taste and to compare and we even had the one and only Martin Markvardsen to host the tasting. I've been in Martin's tasting once before and it was one of the best ones I've been to. Let's see how these single casks would taste.

Photo by Jani Hellgren

The whiskies tasted and how I felt about them:

1 Highland Park Association Society, #2115, 59,1 %

Nose: Dark clean sherry. Very balanced and beautiful.

Mouth: The fruitiness of the sherry lifts up it's head on the palate. Very nice lingering taste at first, then darker chocolate notes at finish. Alcohol is tickeling nicely, the tannins are there to complete the experience but the fruitiness still remains. As the nose suggests: a beautiful balanced whisky. 91.

2. Highland Park for Sweden #2121, 59,7 %

Nose: Fresher than hpas. More of a coastalness and bourbon style, at least when compared to these other strong sherry whiskies.

Mouth: A drier start. Clearly less sherry than hpas. Some wood influence, but damn this is nice! The sherry is very fresh, intense and clean.This is clearly a different whisky compared to these others. 90.

3. Highland Park Calle Cask nr. 1, 59,8 %

Nose: Chocolate. Very nice, smooth and sweet. Reminds me of Glendronach Cask Strength.

Mouth: Man, these are nice whiskies. Beautiful red chocolate fills the mouth with some shivering alcohol. This is a very classy whisky with a long finish and with a dark sherry profile. Personally still prefer the Sweden cask. 91.

4. Highland Park Viking Soul, # 1536, 59,9 %

Nose: A more subtle sherry. some candy. Pretty basic stuff.

Mouth: Well, a clean and flawless whisky with some nutty character but kinda modest and boring. This just lacks some nature. 87.

5. Highland Park Suomi 100, 59,2 %

Nose: The profile is similar to Viking Soul. Red candyness without soul.

Mouth: Quite tight and a bit bitter. The fruitiness is there but nothing special follows. All of these have been clean without sulphur or rubber but that doesn't make this a very interesting whisky. 86.

6. Highland Park Chris Maile, 57,5 %

Nose: More varied nose than these other fellows: some medicinal notes and a hint of dirtiness. Not the most welcoming nose to be honest.

Mouth: Follows the nose. A steep dram with some strange medicinal character. Some bitterness. One of the more complex whiskies tasted today, unfortunately not all of those elements are that pleasant. It's very possible that this dram would work better after some serious drinking that would lose those strange notes, but in this company it definitely divides opinions. 87.

7. Highland Park Viking line, 63,1 %

This was put into cask at 63,5 % and Martin did mention several times that this is the stuff they would like to have from their warehouses.

Nose: Very dark and sweet.

Mouth: Very tight, even after I added tons of water. Some nutty notes then arrive but I never really found this whisky, which takes the last spot of the drams tasted today. 85.

8. Highland Park for the whisky clubs (VYS&SMWS) in Finland, 59,2 %

I had a wee dram of this hype stuff with me so this was a good chance to give it a proper try.

Nose: A sherry monster feeling, definitely one of the darkest of these.

Mouth: A very balanced nice deep sherry whisky. A long taste that brings water to your mouth.Still: 900 €... 89.

9. Highland Park, Martin Mystery a.k.a. single Cask #3 for Finland, 61,2 %

Since we had been having such a nice evening, Martin decided to surprise us with another single cask. This stuff will be released for Finland in Autumn with a price of ~120€.

Nose: More clear, ever smoky character

Mouth: Clearly more smoky stuff compared to the drams tasted (although Martin said that the liquid is exactly the same). The (refill?) wood is less present and leaves more space to the whisky itself. Brilliant stuff that beats the whole lineup today. Can't wait for November! 91.

To end the evening we had some of the Valkyrie that will be available at Alko shortly. Since Valkyrie was bottled at  45,9 % and was struggling with these full strength monsters, I didn't write any specific notes but the stuff was very clean (opposed to Dark Origins which had a dirty rubbery nose) and a more peaty profile than these other whiskies. In fact, the now cask for Finland was like a cask strength version of Valkyrie. Definitely some good stuff that I would rate 89-90.

Verdict: The crowd gave following votes for a winner: Viking Soul: 10, Sweden 7, Chris Maile 5, Viking Line 5 and rest 2 each. To be honest, I haven't liked those single casks for Finland previously, so I wasn't expecting too much for this tasting. However, I was very positively surprised with the overall quality of these drams. It seemed that Martin really had done some effort finding some nice casks for those who appreciate Highland Park. At least 4 new casks are coming up so collectors, be ready! Now it's time for bed and getting ready for tomorrow and some more Highland Park craziness...

Photo by Jani Hellgren

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