I closed out November’s whisky reviews with an independently bottled Highland Park from a bourbon cask. Let’s start December’s whisky reviews with another.
Like Monday’s cask for K&L, which it is four years older than, this one bears the “Orkney” appellation. It’s part of something called the Impex Collection. Impex is a US-based importer. I’m not sure if this Impex Collection business is new in 2021 or if they’ve been at it for a while. I do know the prices being asked for the bottles in the series are enthusiastic. This 21 yo, for example, is going for $200 and up. I suppose that’s low compared to what an official bottle from the distillery of similar age would go for but that’s certainly a price at which I expect a whisky to be very, very good indeed. K&L’s 17 yo cost a scant $80 and it was very good indeed. Let’s see if this one can match it.
Orkney 21, 1999 (50.8%; Impex; bourbon hogshead #58; from a bottle split)
Nose: Dry smoke off the top along with some floral notes and some brine. Maltier with each sniff with some cream emerging as well. The smoke picks up some leafy accents with some air. With more time still there’s more acid. Water makes the citrus expand and turns it musky (lime leaf).
Palate: Comes in with a bigger dose of smoke here along with some lemon; and then there’s some sweeter fruit as I swallow. Nice texture and a good bite at full strength. The smoke gets drier as it goes but there’s not a whole lot of other development and the fruit doesn’t expand or turn tropical as it did in Monday’s 17 yo. Okay, let’s see what water does. Brings out more acid here as well as well as coal smoke and the pepper pops out earlier now. A little more of the sweeter fruit (peach) but nothing very exuberant emerges.
Finish: Long. Drier smoke here too and the oak is more palpable, turning quite spicy and peppery as it goes. As it sits the oak shades towards puerh tea. Water pushes the oak back and emphasizes the pepper; some of the sweeter fruit hangs out too for a bit.
Comments: A more austere version of Monday’s 17 yo—which is to say it is missing most of the fruit that one displayed. Very good in its own right but suffers a little from the juxtaposition. Good enough to pay north of $200 for? Not a chance in my book. Even at $80 I would have taken the K&L cask any day over this.
Rating: 87 points.