Highland Park 27, 1984 (The Whisky Agency)

Well, friends, the pandemic is here. By “here” I mean Minnesota but really it is probably now wherever your “here” is. The time for denial and bravado, governmental and personal, is done. Now we have to all do our bit to restrict the pathways of infection and—also to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe: no one is immune.

Speaking of loved ones, the bottle I have a review of today was one of those I opened to mark my 50th birthday last month, all commemorating significant years in my life. I’ve already posted a review of the Glendronach distilled the year I left India for the US and the of the Springbank bottled the year our older son was born. This Highland Park was bottled the year our younger son was born. It is one of the oldest Highland Parks I’ve had and almost certainly the oldest bourbon cask Highland Park I’ve had. It was bottled by the Whisky Agency, in their very attractive “Bugs” label series.

Highland Park 27, 1984 (52.5%; The Whisky Agency; bourbon hogshead; from my own bottle)

Nose: Honey, lemon, lemon peel, dried leaves. As it sits the lemon expands and becomes waxier and the leaves get more charred. Some cracked pepper in there too. With more time there’s a cereal note as well. With a few drops of water there’s more of the cereal and the lemon moves in the direction of citronella; some pastry crust too now or is that lemon shortbread?

Palate: As indicated by the nose but there’s some bitter lemon zest here along with some tar. Very nice texture at full strength. As it sits it gets saltier and the fruit begins to pick up some subtle tropical accents—pineapple, a hint of passionfruit. With more time the passionfruit is more overt. Water integrates it all wonderfully and pushes the bitter notes back. Some old coins now too.

Finish: Long. The waxy citrus keeps expanding and the charred leaves emerge again at the end. The salt expands into the finish as well with time as do the hints of musky fruit). As on the palate with water.

Comments: This is not as peat-forward as some younger bourbon cask Highland Parks I’ve had—I’d guess those notes faded with the longer time in the cask. What it is is an interesting mix of lush and austere notes and yet more evidence—if any is still needed—of how good bourbon cask Highland Park can be.

Rating: 90 points.

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