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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Highland Park 12 year old, single cask 5036 for K&L Wine Merchants

(Highland Park cluster homepage)

In Monday's intro to this cluster-within-a-cluster, I noted how Highland Park went big with their current single casks: Big Alcohol Content, Big Color, Big Prices. None of those aspects lure me, but sherried Highland Park is always of interest so I took part in bottle splits of three single casks. Monday was a single European oak butt for Bevmo, today it's a single European oak hoggie for K&L.

 Highland Park
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Region: Islands (Orkney)
Age: 12 years (2006-2019)
Maturation: first fill European oak hogshead
Cask #: 5036
Outturn: 292 bottles
Exclusive to: K&L Wine Merchants
Alcohol by Volume: 66.0%
(from a bottle split)

As with Monday's HP, I'm tasting backwards, approaching diluted levels first.


No sulfur on the nose this time. Not much in the way of smoke either. It's mostly almonds, walnuts and dunnage.

The palate leans heavily on nutty sherry casks. It's a little acidic, a little sweet (dates!) and has a touch of woody bitterness in the background.

It finishes with dates, salt, pepper and tannins.

The good news is this HP doesn't go extra ugly at this strength. The bad news is that this whisky feels over-diluted at 43%abv. I like the date notes though.

DILUTED TO 57%abv (100 UK proof)

I get this bold cherimoya note on the nose. (I'm no cherimoya expert, as I've tried the fruit all of three times, but I highly recommend tracking one down; it's definitely......something.) There are also nectarines, almond extract, blackberry syrup and some toasted oak. A few root beer barrel candies in the background.

The mighty alcohol note registers early in the palate. Lots of sherry going on here, and a slight industrial note that makes it feel a little old school. Smoke, cassis and tart nectarines float through the mid- and background.

The sherry note gets fruitier in the finish, while also holding onto those tart nectarines.

At this strength it's in much better shape, a real sherry monster. Though the palate is short on nuance, the nose is a lot of fun. Time to try it at...


The nose is all vanilla, banana and varnish at first. Needs air, the whisky and the drinker. Ah, it does pick up almond extract, fudge and fresh stone fruit after a while.

On the other hand, the palate is approachable. It has a moderate berry sweetness, salt and raw walnuts. The oak offers more spice than bitterness.

It finishes tart, gingery and salty with a whiff of toasted oak.

I lived to type another review! Again the nose proves more interesting than the palate, which is likely due to such an aggressive cask.


This was without a doubt a cleaner and more reliable cask than Monday's. It requires dilution, though it may work better in the 50-55% range than my experimental levels. I still think the aggressive oak and extra high ABV don't do the whisky a lot of favors as those factors seem to suppress the spirit's character, but some fans of sherry cask whisky will likely enjoy this Highland Park more than I do.

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - $160
Rating - 84