Let’s stick with Highland Park and let’s go with another from an atypical (for the distillery) bourbon cask (after last Friday’s 11 yo from Hart Brothers). This is a 17 yo from the German bottler Malts of Scotland, who seem to have bottled more bourbon cask Highland Parks than they have sherry casks (I have an older one that I plan to open later this year; fascinating information, I know). Anyway, let’s get right to it.
Highland Park 17, 1996 (54.2%; Malts of Scotland; bourbon cask 14040; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Opens with honey; some lime peel as well and a hint of apricot. Despite the strength not being particularly high it feels somewhat closed. Let’s see if some air doesn’t open it up. No, still quite closed 20 minutes or so later, with only a little bit of pine and more lime zest showing up. Time for water. With water, the lime peel/zest retreats a bit and it’s sweeter with some cream.
Palate: Peppery arrival turning zesty (lime) with a bit of prickly peat (just a bit). A little sweeter on the second sip but the lime zest is now even more pronounced. A very faint soapiness too (hopefully, it’ll go away). Nice, oily texture. Not much change here with time either except that the soapiness goes away and the zest gets even more intense and better integrated with the sweetness. Sweeter on the palate too with water and a bit spicier but I can’t say it’s very interesting.
Finish: Long. No new development but the zesty, peppery notes linger for a good while. With more time there’s a minerally peat note along with the pepper. Not much change with water.
Comments: Quite nice but a somewhat limited palette. I was hoping that initial hint of apricot might expand but no. Still, it’s a flawless whisky and would be a good sipper in the summer.
Rating: 84 points.