I don’t really follow distillery press releases and marketing so please forgive me if I’m wrong about the following: my understanding is that Highland Park 10 is only available in a couple of countries in Europe (the Netherlands among them) and only available in 350 ml bottles. Why either of these things should be so, I don’t know. And I suppose it is possible that neither is still true—this is not a new whisky. At any rate, I guess we should just be happy that Highland Park are putting out an age stated whisky even younger than their mainstay 12 yo. (This seems to be a bit of a happy trend these days, by the way, what with Lagavulin’s new 8 yo-–though that may not continue past this year—and Bowmore just releasing a new 9 yo.) Maybe there’s a faction at the distillery who’re embarrassed about Highland Park’s endless parade of whiskies with silly names and stories and this is a sop to them. Anyway, let’s see what it’s like.
Highland Park 10 (40%; from a purchased sample)
Nose: Very Highland Park with honey, oranges and mild peat. On the second sniff the peat seems to have expanded (and it’s very faintly rubbery now). Gets brinier as it sits as well and there’s a touch of butterscotch too now. With more time the citrus is more lemon than orange and there’s some zest to go with the fruit. One drop of water mutes the fruit and so I’m not going to add any more.
Palate: Even peatier entry on the palate with the sweeter notes right behind. The peat’s not phenolic, more peppery and mineral (a la old Ardmore). Seems to get smokier and drier as it sits (leafier now). Water seems to emphasize the smoke.
Finish: Medium. The pepper outlast the fruit and is joined by some salt.
Comments: This was a nice surprise. A very good entry-level single malt in general and solidly Highland Park in its makeup. The 12 yo is better with more complexity and more oomph in general—it also has a little higher abv. I don’t know why this doesn’t have a wide release: priced below the 12 yo this could very easily become my every day sipper.
Rating: 84 points.