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Orkney’s Highland Park has once again bottled up a brill single malt at cask strength and bestowed it a pleasingly straightforward name – feast your eyes upon Highland Park Cask Strength Release No.2! This particular edition was made with a combination of sherry seasoned European and American oak casks, alongside a few ex-bourbon casks, selected by master whisky maker Gordon Motion. Sitting at a robust 63.9% ABV, this one offers up plenty of fruit, vanilla, and smoke notes to enjoy.
From sherry seasoned European and American oak casks. Sherry seasoned European oak can be tricky in my book, hope this won’t have become too leafy or even leathery. Having said that, batch #1 of the C/S had been very good, in my opinion (WF 86). Colour: gold. Nose: not as smoky as the 15, rather more on sponge cake, caramel, fudge, butterscotch, stewed fruits or the trademark heather honey… With water: creamy honeyness and many stewed fruits and jams, especially our beloved quinces, also apples and pears. A perfect coastal side too, sea spray, even some iodine, mercurochrome, ointments… What’s really great is that no clumsy sherry gets in the way, it’s all well-integrated. Mouth (neat): I think I like it but I’m sure it is extremely strong. With water: more smoke and more coastalness. A tad too much on the leafy-sherry side indeed for me, with some bell pepper and even, say artichokes, but the general feeling remains extremely positive. All you need to do is to add the proper amount of water – no, zero water is not an option here. Finish: long, perhaps a tad too leafy and peppery at this point, which will make it lose one or two points in my book. Comments: a tad rough and rustic here and there, but it is to my liking. I have the feeling, not only at HP, that some newer sherry-seasoned casks have become leafier and more peppery, I don’t know why. Because of European oak? Tonnelerias making them faster? Just a gut feeling… 85 Points.
Nose: Roast chestnuts, pear drops, earthy smoke and with a hint of caraway.
Palate: Savoury peat and a smidge of salted liquorice, plus thick honey, crunchy red apple, and cassia.
Finish: Almond, chocolate, red chilli flake, and oak.