Three very old Highland Park where one is a 12 YO
Highland Park 1966 12 YO, 43,4 %
This whisky was bottled by independent bottler Averys of Bristol Ltd., for the US market. As far as I have been able to determine this independent bottler is no longer active. The latest bottling I have found from them is from 1983.
The Highland Park 1966 12 YO was distilled all the way back in 1966, and bottled in 1978. This is not a single cask, but was a limited batch of two casks.
First off I have to comment on the color of this whisky. It has almost no color at all, judging from the visuals only this could have been a new make. It is tempting to guess old and very well-used refill casks.
Nose (22/25): Very rich and peaty on the nose. Slightly acidic. Pears, fresh apples, citrus, and a wood smoke with an almost sour edge. A hint of mustard seeds. It feels a bit young and malty. Pineapple and grapes.
Taste (21/25): Very light and sweet at first. Then the peaty spice wall hits; pepper, chili, peat smoke and oak.
Finish (21/25): Ashes, licorice, mild caramel and not much more. It does reveal its young age and the (possibly) tired casks used at this point. Medium length with massive amounts of warmth - almost numbing.
Balance (21/25): A very strange, young, old dram. I am a bit confused now - but in a good way.
Highland Park 1973 Vintage, 37 YO, 50,6 %
Nose (23/25): Very soft and delicate. I would say this is a very typical old Highland Park nose - soft, sweet smoke mixed with the finest honey and mild caramel. Given time I also detect mint, mild floral notes, fresh herbs and oranges.
Taste (23/25): Rich and complex. Full-bodied mouthfeel. Surprisingly spicy and peaty for its age. There's hot embers, warm ashes, rich wood smoke, honey, toffee and rich chocolate fudge.
Finish (23/25): Warm, long and lingering. Continues as it started, but now also with some licorice added. The rich, peaty sweetness stays with me for a long, long, long time. Wow!
Balance (23/25): A very fine dram!
Image from The Whisky Exchange.
Highland Park 40 YO, 48,3 %
Nose (24/25): Vanilla heaven! Marshmallows and pears. Wow! What a delightful symphony of light, sweet, fruity and mildly peated notes! This is stunning! Give it time and the sweetness is somewhat balanced with light spices, rich honey and a soft oakiness.
Taste (23/25): Caramel, black pepper, rich heather honey, warm ashes and mild wood smoke. Very complex and rich mouthfeel.
Finish (23/25): Warm and never ending. Rich, spicy, fruity and lightly peated. The oak does take over right at the end, but I forgive that with ease.
Balance (24/25): I do not have words. This is very close to perfection!
Sláinte! - Thomas