I guess this has de facto turned into a sherried whisky month—all my reviews save for that of the Loch Lomond 12 have been of whiskies from sherry casks of one kind or the other. Might as well keep that going. Like Monday’s Ballechin 12, this too was released as an exclusive for the Whisky Barrel, and I got this sample as part of the same larger bottle split. This is an Orkney 11 yo, or an indie Highland Park—it seems like new indie releases of Highland Park mostly bear the Orkney nomenclature these days; and I think I read recently that Highland Park may even be cracking down on indie bottlings altogether—shame if that’s true. Anyway, I suppose it’s possible that an Orkney cask could also be from Scapa. But since I know less about these matters than most, I will go along with the notion that Orkney=Highland Park in the indie market unless there is info to the contrary. I was particularly interested in this one as it’s from a PX sherry hogshead (presumably not full matured) and I don’t think I’ve ever had one of those.
Orkney 11, 2007 (63.7%; North Star for The Whisky Barrel; PX sherry hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Pretty tight at full strength but there’s some leafy peat and some pepper under the alcohol burn. After a minute or two sweeter sherry notes pop out as well. With more time and air there’s roasted malt and a lot of it. With a glug of water there’s charred oak and lemon along with cracked pepper. Later it gets maltier.
Palate: Sweet arrival and then the pepper and the leafy notes and some roasted malt. Not as hot here but needs water for sure. On the second sip there’s a bitterness that’s somewhere between herbal and rubbery. Okay, I’m adding water. As on the nose with water but the char is less oaky than savoury here (charred meat); some malt and coffee too but that herbal/rubbery thing is still here.
Finish: Medium. The charred note that hangs out for a while. Water is not as good for the finish—the rubbery note turns plasticky here.
Comments: A bit blah neat (does anyone really enjoy whiskies at these ludicrous strengths?); better but nothing so very special with water. It may be a matter of getting the balance right but I’m not inclined to get a full bottle to experiment with.
Rating: 78 points.