(Thanks to /u/ounknownto for the sample!)
Creativity is, by most definitions, the reason that humanity is no longer running through the plains as the tiniest morsels on multiple creatures buffet tables. Our ingenuity achievements has filled books and books, showing that the human mind needs to improve on designs.
Yet in our achievements, we suffer from the age old question of quality and quantity. As one increases, the other eventually decreases, leading to a lesser product overall. The balance of these two points is therefore on each innovator’s mind.
Highland Park is, as part of the human race (unless they are some sort of sentient Scotch making dolphins), as innovators. And some would point to their core beliefs as part of that: They use multiple processes to create a truly Scottish Scotch.
With the age collection, Highland Park decided to increase the quality through using ‘more expensive casks’. This typically meant First-fill casks. They also aged the dram longer to hit that right ‘sweet spot’ on each whisky.
Today I’ll be reviewing one of these drams, as part of a three-part series I call ‘Zanadu 3: Titles that suck and the Zebras that ignore them.’ The first such dram is Highland Park 1994 Vintage. There’s a higher percentage of First-Fill European sherry oak casks used in the making of this dram.
Price: N/A in Ontario LCBO
Age: 16 years
Colour: Light Yellow
Nose: Lemon, smoke, cherry, thyme, nutmeg, banana bread, walnut, cream cheese icing
Reminds me a little bit of the 12 year, however there’s more complexity. Eventually it ends up with this amazing nose of banana bread and I’m really quite excited.
That said, it’s missing some of the oomph that I’m used to for Highland Park. It’s a lot lighter nose. This does not bode well.
Taste: Caramel, peanuts, green banana, orange, apple
Again, this is a different dram that other Highland Parks. There’s more unripe fruit, less acidity, and less smoke than I’m used to. Unique flavour.
That said, the flavour is light and hard to really pick apart.
Finish: Sea salt, parsley, lemon peel, mint, carrot, smoke
Meh. The finish is okay. Doesn’t live up to the promise the nose had, and it’s again lighter than the Highland Park profile I’m used to.
Conclusion: To sum up, the execution seems to be to make a more complex Highland Park by increasing the quality and time that went into a dram, showcasing the amount of work.
And by all accounts, it worked, until someone said “Let’s lower the Abv. to lower than our traditional offerings” and all that hard work was marred like tears down a clown’s painted face.
If you’re going to do something, and put the effort in, the least you can do is fully execute it. And yes, I know that sometimes you can purchase Highland Park core ranges at 40%. Yet in this case I had a lot of trouble finding the point.
Oh well, I’d say pass on this one and just buy the 12 year.
Scotch review #250, Island review #24, Whisky Network review #382