Highland Park 28, 1980 (Mackillop’s Choice)

A week of reviews of late 2000s releases by Mackillop’s Choice comes to a close today. You will recall that these are all older whiskies and distilled in successive decades. Monday’s review was of a Tomintoul 41, 1966. Wednesday’s review was of a Glenlivet 30, 1977. Today’s review is of the youngest in the set, a Highland Park 28, 1980. Will it scale the heights of that Tomintoul? Well, if it’s as good as the Glenlivet I’ll be happy enough.

Highland Park 28, 1980 (43%; Mackillop’s Choice; from a bottle split)

Nose: That prickly, lightly smoky, heathery Highland Park thing off the top. Earthier on the second sniff, even as some creme brulee emerges on top: the peat is more vegetal now and there’s some shoe polish and some greased metal. Continues in this vein. With a drop of water there’s more of the creme brulee.

Palate: Leads with the prickly peat with the other stuff from the nose coming up behind. Like the Tomintoul and Glenlivet, it has a pretty good bite at 43% even though the texture is thin. Earthier here too with each sip, with damp earth and things that grow and decompose in damp earth. The texture improves a bit with time as well. Water brings out some sweetness and some citrus even as the earthy notes continue.

Finish: Long. The peat picks up more organic notes (rotting leaves) as it crests, and then there’s some oaky sweetness as it slowly fades. As on the palate with time and water.

Comments: A very good old-school peated whisky. There’s nothing phenolic about the peat (as is the norm with Highland Park) and the whole is earthy in a way that makes it quite different from contemporary Highland Park. It’s also quite different from this mid-1980s 27 yo bottled by the Whisky Agency and also this mid-1970s 25-26 yo bottled by Scott’s Selection—so I don’t think we can ascribe these things to era of distillation alone. (Though I must add that it did bring this other mid-1980s Highland Park from Scott’s Selection to mind.) Anyway, it’s very good in an austere vein—a few more ticks of abv would have really kicked this up.

Rating: 88 points.



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