Unnamed Orkney 14, 2006 (Signatory)

Okay, let’s bring to an end this week of reviews of recent’ish releases in Signatory’s Un-Chillfiltered Collection. The week began on Monday with an Ardmore 11 that was matured in ex-Islay casks. It continued on Wednesday with a bourbon cask Glenrothes. Both those casks were unusual expressions of those distilleries’ profiles but neither got me very excited—though I did like them both. The final whisky for the week is more in line with the distillery’s official profile: this is a Highland Park from a refill sherry butt. Yes, it says it’s an “Unnamed Orkney” but unless word emerges that casks from Scapa are also being sold under these “Unknown/Secret Orkney” appellations, it’s safe to assume these are all Highland Parks. I did a whole week of Highland Park reviews last month (here, here and here). I liked two of those quite a lot and was only a bit disappointed by the one official release in the lot (though I didn’t think it was bad). Let’s hope this one is more in line with the two indies from the last go-around.

Unnamed Orkney 14, 2006 (46%; Signatory; refill butt from my own bottle)

Nose: Mildly vegetal peat with some damp undergrowth in the vicinity. More brine on the second sniff and then the peat gets more organic (something rotting in that damp undergrowth). With a few drops of water the organic notes recede and it gets a bit creamy.

Palate: Comes in with more peat here and more ash; the vegetal note from the nose presents more bell peppery here. A good drinking strength but the texture feels just a bit thin. Sweeter with time (pipe tobacco) and there’s some milky cocoa too. Okay, let’s see what water does. Hmm it actually makes it ashier but also pulls out a fair bit of citrus to go with it along with malt and a biscuity note.

Finish: Long. The ash fades out slowly. Sweeter here too with time. As on the palate with water.

Comments: This is almost two whiskies in one as water makes some significant alterations, and on the palate and finish, at least, makes it more interesting. Quite a bit of smoke too. Is contemporary Highland Park getting smokier?

Rating: 85 points.




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