This is an older release from Hart Brothers, a bottler who I don’t think I’ve seen anything new from in the US for a while—are they still in the country? Anyway, this was released in 2005 and hung around for a long time at Binny’s before they finally discounted it massively for one of their Spring sales a couple of years ago, which is when I decided to finally give it a go. It is from a bourbon cask (I believe, there’s no specific info on the label). The distillery only releases sherry-aged malt and so it is to the indies we must go for Highland Park from bourbon cask. (I assume the distillery produces these casks for use in the group’s blends: I’m not sure to what degree sherry cask Highland Park itself is allocated for blending.)
This is not my favourite profile of Highland Park by any means (like everyone else I’m a sucker for their quintessential sherried style) but it’s always very nice as a change-up. And if you haven’t had a bourbon cask Highland Park it’s also an opportunity to see how much sherry cask aging alters the base spirit—which, if my limited experience is anything to go by, starts out much more minerally, peppery and peaty than you would expect from the official distillery profile.
Highland Park 11, 1993 (46%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Mineral oil and mossy peat; just a hint of plastic and uncoated tablets. With a bit of time there’s lime zest and some sweetness (wet earth/concrete). Sweeter fruit after a bit with some apple joining the lime zest which also has a more fermented edge now. A lot more lime (zest and juice) with water and after a minute some vanilla too; another minute and now I’m getting some of the mango that showed up on the palate.
Palate: Very much as on the nose but with some added pepper and less fruit. Austere is the word. With more time the lime zest shows up and there’s a quinine-ish bitterness too. The lime expands with every sip and there’s some richer fruit that seems to be lurking behind it too. Yes, with time I swear there’s some tart mango. Let’s see if water brings more of it out. No, not at first at any rate. No, not at second either but now there’s more peppery peat.
Finish: Medium. The pepper is the top note now.
Comments: This is not the best bourbon cask Highland Park I’ve ever had (assuming that it is a bourbon cask and not a nth refill sherry cask) but it was quite pleasant, especially at the price. Another that’s reminiscent of an older school Highlands style that’s not so easy to find these days.
Rating: 84 points.