...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Highland Park The Dark 17 year old

(Highland Park cluster homepage)

Yeah, so maybe I did say I wouldn't review any of the semi-recent gimmicky Highland Parks, but I couldn't pass up an official high-strength teenage sherry cask concoction. It's a pretty big batch too — 28000 bottles worth — so I'd love to find out what sort of HP Mean they arrived at.

So here it is, The Dork. Oh my bad, The Dark. With a name like that, one would expect something coffee-colored like the brutal official single casks, but instead the whisky has a copper hue. That's a good omen.

Distillery: Highland Park
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Location: Orkney
Maturation: sherry-seasoned European oak casks
Age: 17 years
Release year: ca. 2017
Outturn: 28,000 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 52.9%
(Thanks to Dr. Springbank for the sample!)


The nose is all over the place. Peated Twizzlers, spicy cigars, A&W root beer, Dr. Brown's cream soda, moss, mango juice and almond cookies. It is expressive.

The palate's first beat is fruity and floral, but then the second beat is all aggro casks, bitter and heavy. It does find a crazy middle ground: bitter, smoky, sweet, sorta floral, sorta musty.

It finishes with cigars and cream soda. Hints of bitterness, sweetness, mustiness and citrus linger around the edges.


How on earth did they end up with this result with such a sizable batch? Did they just have a weirdo parcel of 50-100 casks of 2000 distillate, and needed to find them a home? Were blenders involved at any point? And, again, Highland Park is perfectly okay attaching their name to THIS, but not scores of lovely indie single casks?

All of that being said, I like this whisky more than I should. It's strange and messy enough to be of interest. A bit extreme and never boring, The Dark is also quite drinkable. Were it half its price, I'd encourage people to try it. Not because it's from Highland Park (I can't find any Highland Park in this Highland Park), rather because it's a silly thing, and we need silly things.

Availability - It's still around, four years later
Pricing - $250-$400 (USA), $225-$350 (Europe)
Rating - 83