In my review of the 25 yo at 48.1% which kicked off this month I explained the uninteresting history of my relationship with the Highland Park 25. I was glad to discover that that bottling (from 2007 or 2008) did not disappoint. Here’s hoping that this 2012 release, which comes in a whopping great wooden box, is as good. Though this is being posted at the very end of the month, I tasted this right after the other so as to be able to compare them directly–as a result these notes will make constant reference to the other bottle.
Highland Park 25, 2012 Release (45.7%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Not quite as intensely sherried as the other. The citrus/apricot note is more apparent at the start and it’s generally brighter (in comparative terms, that is; this is still quite obviously sherried). No gunpowder here at all and far less smoke. With a minute or so of airing there’s toffee and golden raisins soaked in brandy and also an earthy note and the quintessential Highland Park floral peat. The raisins get more and more intense with time and that earthy note turns to pencil lead/graphite. More fruit in here too. With water there’s a vanilla/shortbread note and the fruit turns to fruit leather.
Palate: Very much as on the nose. Additionally, there’s some polished wood here, some rum-like notes (toffee and ripe banana) and more honey. Smoke emerges with time as does the leatheriness and there’s more spice too now (nutmeg, clove, cinnamon). The fruitiness expands with time and there’s a hint of peach here that I didn’t get in the other. More tannic with time too. Water does pull some brighter fruit out–there’s a hint of pineapple too now
Finish: Long. Again, it’s the citrus/apricot note that hangs on for a while and then the smoke joins it. With water the smoke is stronger on the finish (it’s not phenolic at all) and there’s some coarsely ground black pepper too now.
Comments: This is more refined than the 48.1% version to start. It’s quite reminiscent, actually, at first, of the lovely 40 yo that I had a couple of opportunities to taste early this Fall thanks to my friend Rich. I suspect there might be more American oak casks in this one. With time, however, it comes closer to its 25 yo sibling (a little more fruit here, a little more peat there). No reason therefore to give it a different score. I’ll be interested to see how these bottles change over time.
Rating: 90 points.