...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Undisclosed Orkney Distillery 20 year old 1999 Infrequent Flyers, cask A324-4

(Highland Park cluster homepage)

I was going to start this post with a paragraph-long diatribe about how disappointing this cluster has been, but then I went back and actually looked at the reviews and realized I had nothing to be disappointed about. What did I really expect from those three 64+%abv sherried creatures? Meanwhile, this series has already included three 89-90 point whiskies, and the cluster as a whole averages well above this blog's mean score. So I should save my complaints for something more important, like my terrible electric cooktop. It's terrible.

Started by Alistair Walker (formerly of Tobermory, Benriach, and Glendronach distilleries) in 2018, the Infrequent Flyers range has rolled at least forty single casks into the market in just over two years. Like most indie bottlers, Walker has been burdened by the whole "Undisclosed Distillery" situation; with about 18% of AWWC's whiskybase listings showing that U-word on their labels. I will be reviewing two of the Orkneys, one today, one on Friday.

Distillery: Highland Park
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Region: Islands (Orkney)
Independent Bottler: Alistair Walker Whisky Company
Range: Infrequent Flyers
Age: 20 years old (1999 - October 2019)
Maturation: Hogshead
Cask numberA324 #4
Outturn: 303 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 52.1%
(from a bottle split)


At the start, this cask shows it's related to Monday's HP, with Frosted Flakes and toasted grains and nuts on the nose. But then it turns directly to a salt+pepper+ocean note that reads Talisker-esque. More character appears with time: roses, citronella, cotton candy, white peaches and stroopwafel. Dropping the abv to 43% neither damages nor improves matters. The roses, white peaches and stroopwafel remain. Some kiwis show up, as does a hint of incense smoke.

Dried oregano and tangy lemons appear first in the palate, followed by peppercorns, barley and moderate smoke. Hints of wort and ultra-bitter IPA hide in the background. Again, nothing changes much once the whisky is reduced to 43%abv. There's a little more smoke and dried herbs, and perhaps a hint of metal, but otherwise it's the same.

Black pepper, herbal bitterness and a slight yeasty worty note make up most of the finish, with a lemony smoke aftertaste. At 43%abv, this finish matches the palate, aside from a little bit of tart stone fruit.


When tried side-by-side with Monday's 18yo Orkney, this 20yo won out. This one actually read younger, not like a dead cask, but rather closer to the spirit, a thing I like. As noted above, it felt like Talisker's cousin with its coastal peppery style. If the palate had some of the nose's fruits, I'd be drooling all over my keyboard. Without those fruits, this whisky stalls at the Quite Solid Stuff stage. It's a decent altitude, but Highland Park can frequently fly much higher.

See what I did there? Yeah, I know, amazing.

Availability - Pretty close to selling through in Europe
Pricing - €135-€190
Rating - 85