...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Highland Park 22 year old 1991 SMWS 4.190

I'm not going to vent about the Scotch Malt Whisky Society again, don't worry. But if you're looking for my take on it, click here. I've had a two SMWS Highland Parks other than this one and they were both great. And while sherry cask Highland Park may be the sexy thing, I've really dug almost every bourbon cask HP that I've had the pleasure to sip. So my expectations are high for this one.

Distillery: Highland Park (SMWS 4)
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Region: Isle of Orkney
Independent Bottler: Scotch Malt Whisky Society
"Funny" name: Big boys smoking in the sauna
Age: 22 years
Distilled: May 31, 1991
Maturation: refill hogshead
Cask#: 4.190
Bottles: 246
Alcohol by Volume: 53.9%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(Thank you to Monsieur Brett for the sample!)

Its color is straw. The nose has two perfectly balanced sides to it. First there's the lean beige (if you will) side: barley, burlap, hay and clay. Then there's the pretty side: orange zest, cilantro, canned peaches, cherry liqueur and a hint of rose. Its palate loads up on the herbal, mineral and earthy notes. There's also some limes and lemons. Yellow peaches, salted caramels and malt. All of this with an oily mouthfeel. Lots of limes in the long finish. Then brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and barley. A slight medicinal note in the background.

WITH WATER (~46%abv)
The nose gets more floral. Then apricots and key lime pie. Also some hay and soil. Meanwhile, the palate has all sorts of things going on, but again in balance. Dried herbs and bitter herbs. Lemons and limes and sweet malt. Baking spices, along with a savory note. Still very mineral(ly). The finish is spicier and sweeter than the neat finish. It's also sweeter than the palate. Baking spices, cayenne pepper and salt.

Those of you seeking out Highland Park in its sherried form, can go ahead and keep doing so. Gimme these refill ex-bourbon hogsheads. This cask has done its job over the two decades without ever overtaking the crisp Orkney spirit within. Or to put it another way, this is well-matured whisky that is not oaky. Hell, it's excellent.

It's also not smoky. The phenolics register more like earth and minerals. There are a lot of other things going on with it, but no single element tramples the next. I'm sure this thing sold out upon its outturn three years ago. Sorry folks. :(

Availability - ???
Pricing - ???
Rating - 90


  1. This sounds very good. When ex-bourbon Highland Park is great it's really great. And frankly, I've not had any that have not been at least quite good.

    1. I remember you referencing Highland Park as one of your favorite single malts in a post, like three years ago. It awoke me to the fact that I'd never considered it when making my Top Five list. And I think may be in my Top Five list (which is probably 8 items long) now.