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Monday, September 13, 2021

Highland Park 16 year old 1984 Old Malt Cask

(Highland Park cluster homepage)

It's time to wrap up this cluster. There will (probably) be a flurry of three posts in three days because Yom Kippur arrives on Thursday. My hope is to provide a thoughtful recap of the cluster on Friday.

Today's HP was distilled in 1984. I only vaguely remember 1984. But then again, I only vaguely remember 2019. Anyway, Douglas Laing has bottled at least ten Highland Parks from the 1984 vintage, but this was the first. With its 750mL listing in Whiskybase, the whisky appears to have been bottled for the USA. It's great to know we were getting OMCs back then. Too bad I was shooting vodka with Coors Light chasers in those days. Too bad, indeed.

I'm kinda spilling the beans with this picture.

Distillery: Highland Park
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Region: Islands (Orkney)
Independent Bottler: Douglas Laing
Range: Old Malt Cask
Age: 16 years old (May 1984 - July 2000)
Maturation: "Cask" (woo, that narrows it down)
Outturn: 270 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
(from a bottle split)


For the first 30 minutes, the nose offers mothballs, metal, chalk, seaweed and apples. After that it takes a turn towards bourbon, with caramel, bananas and barrel char. Once the whisky is reduced to 43%abv, the nose turns simple, blendy, with hints of minerals, smoke and ocean.

The palate. SOAP. And also soap. Awkward Old Bottle Effect swoops around malt, sweet apples, bitterness and hints of oranges. The soap retreats a bit at 43%abv, only to be replaced by cardboard and tannins. It's a little sweeter, with more smoke and a touch of lemon.

It finishes with sweet citrus, OBE, cardboard and soap. At 43%abv, there's lemon, metal and cardboard.


This bottle was freshly opened when it was split up less than a year ago, so this isn't a case of a dusty going weird when met with years of oxygen. I also switched glasses twice. So it's the whisky.

There's a slight sample size issue when it comes to the Whiskybase community's opinion for this Highland Park. There are two ratings: a 91, and a 60. My take falls between the two, though closer to the latter. The palate is dramatically flawed with its soap, cardboard and heavy oaky bitterness. And though I tend to like Old Bottle Effect, it doesn't work well with any of the other characteristics in the palate. The nose doesn't do much to save it either, other than bringing the score up out of the 60s. I sincerely hope the last two HPs are better than this.

Availability - ???
Pricing - ???
Rating - 70