Highland Park 40 Year Old

Spirit Name:
Spirit Type:
Highland Park 40 Year Old
Single malt

stars 4.5

Orkney Islands, Scotland
Themes: Musty, old library, leather, dark fruit and berries, cranberries, dark chocolate, mixed peel, mild sarsaparilla and licorice, creamy, polished wood, nutmeg, toffee, broken cigar
A mark of only the very best whiskies is their ability to conjure vivid memroies as clear as day, and this whisky beams with the Christmas themed aromas that filled historic pubs and dining halls in Oxford – the old wood, the leather, the aroma of berries, black cherries, dark chocolate, wood spices and sweet honeyed desserts. Highland Park 40 Year Old is a walk down memory lane for those who have enjoyed a British Christmas, or an introduction to a British Christmas for those who have not!  

Tasting notes:
Highland Park is nestled in the Orkney Islands which sit dotted off the most northern shores of the Scottish mainland. For 40 years whisky sat maturing on these islands, and that whisky was then bottled as the Highland Park 40 Year Old – a single malt whisky that beams character that can only be achieved by maturing Highland Park distillate in superb quality re-full casks that, over four long decades, unlock their secrets. 

Highland Park uses re-fill casks because these casks will be less aggressive on the spirit because they have already had some of their character drawn out by other whisky, and over 40 years that is very important because it means that the whisky is less likely to be overdone with oak. That decision has obviously resulted in a whisky with near perfect balance, and just the right amount of oak influence that lets the spirit shine with energy. 

Superb whiskies bring back memories, but only the very best such as the Highland Park 40 Year Old conjure vivid memories that are as clear as day – the flavour compounds in the spirit and the oak work together to reproduce the same smells and tastes that we encounter in our lives, and so they are a cue for the memories to come flooding back. Those memories included sitting in libraries turning the pages of a one hundred year old leather bound book in a centuries old library, and, probably most vividly, all the Christmas themed aromas that filled historic pubs and dining halls in Oxford – the wood, the leather, the aroma of berries, black cherries, dark chocolate, wood spices and honeyed desserts. 

Enjoying HP 40

Nose: Musty, dark fruit and berries (blackberries especially) brightly beam through the smell of an old library with its wooden chairs, tables and dusty leather bound books. The aroma of thick dark chocolate then develops, almost the same as Italian hot chocolate, with damp and sappy sugars. As the whisky rests the fruity sweetness develops into more vibrant red fruit such as dried cranberries with mild shimmers of sarsaparilla and licorice, and with this sweetness comes light cream, leather, old paper or parchment, polished wood, apricot jam, marmalade with orange liqueur, mixed peel and pencil shavings. 

Taste: Luscious and wonderfully smooth on the entry, the striking feature of this whisky is its lingering finish that electrifies the taste buds and makes them buzz with energy in a way that makes you hope the experience does not end. The initial entry is velvety and almost indescribable – there is a fusion of flavours that are melded together into one lovely whole. On consecutive tastings, the secrets of the oak and Orkney begin to unravel – the wood and oak forms the foundation with powdery cocoa developing with nutmeg and burnt toffee that is softened by a mild creaminess as the taste of a torn cigar and salted butter flicker with fresh dark plum and mixed berries. 

Finish: Creamy dark chocolate continues to sit on the palate with green walnuts and dense layers of the freshest honeycomb layered over milky biscuits. The taste of the broken cigar also develops into the mildest dense cigar tobacco which accompanies a smoky honey. 

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