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Monday, August 9, 2021

Stones of Stenness 18 year old 1999 Single Cask Nation, cask 453

(Highland Park cluster homepage)

This week brings three we-can't-call-it-Highland-Park Highland Parks distilled in 1999. I think all the cluster's HPs after this week were deemed satisfactory enough to carry the distillery's name, or were bottled before this no-name foolishness began.

Today's bourbon barrel-aged Highland Park was bottled by Single Cask Nation. Since they couldn't call it Highland Park, the fellas named it after an ancient Orkney henge, Stones of Stenness, not to be confused with the Stones of Dennis.

Stone placement is ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting by a simple majority.

Now onto another farcical aquatic ceremony.

Distillery: Highland Park
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Region: Islands (Orkney)
Independent Bottler: Single Cask Nation
Age: 18 years old (November 1999 - May 2018)
Maturation: bourbon barrel
Cask number453
Outturn: 186 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 54.8%
(from a bottle split)


The nose begins pleasantly. Grains and nuts. Apple pie, Frosted Flakes and a snuffed cigar. After 20+ minutes, it gains a briny peat note, and some peach peels. Reducing it down to 43%abv, brings out more fruit, specifically peach juice and dried apricots. No smoke, maybe some almond extract. Reminds me of Glenburgie.

Black pepper dominates the palate, with barley and herbal bitterness somewhere in the middle. Lime popsicles and ash in the background. Sadly, the palate does not get fruiter when diluted to 43%abv. Instead it gets bitterer and tarter, with a metallic note in the background.

There's more smoke in the finish, less pepper, more lime popsicles. At 43%abv, it's bitterer, smokier and drying.


The nose engages at full and reduced strength, holding onto its vibrancy even after 45 minutes. It was a cool, retro choice not to finish this whisky in a juicy second cask, instead releasing it as is. But (I can't believe I'm saying this), I don't think a secondary maturation would have hurt it. The palate needs a boost. It could have used some of the nose's fruits and nuts, or maybe a few years in a moderate sherry cask, or even a rich bourbon cask. I'm not sure that more time in this particular barrel would have added anything positive. Still, kudos to SCN for bottling a nude Highland Park.

Availability - Sold out?
Pricing - $190-$210 (wat?)
Rating - 82

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