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Monday, July 12, 2021

Highland Park 12 year old, single cask 6737 for BevMo

(Highland Park cluster homepage)

One of my many complaints in my Full Volume Highland Park Rant post was that the distillery had discontinued its program of offering exclusive single casks. And wouldn't you know it, mere weeks later a new exclusive Highland Park single cask program began! Just like Jim Murray, I will say that it was 100% my doing, and you're welcome. Unlike Jim Murray, I will not compare them to an imaginary girlfriend's soiled undergarments in Barcelona.

Most single distilleries have a barreling/filling strength of 63.5%abv. Highland Park goes with 69.5%abv. That explains the ultra high ABVs on these single casks, and the extractive nature of that strength probably has something to do with the dark color of these releases.

Scotch whisky that punches in higher than 63%abv (or even 60%abv) tends to clash with my palate. And I'm not always quick to chase coffee-dark whiskies, as they're often massively tannic. But the main thing that has kept me from buying a bottle of one of these single casks is......you guessed it! The price. Here in America (aka Democracy Central) these ~12 year old whiskies are priced at $160-$200. And I have no idea why I (or anyone) should pay that amount. These are not one-offs; more than 220 of these casks have hit the market as of the date of this post.

Anyhoo, I have friends and acquaintances who feel otherwise, and they have bought a bottle or two. (Though I don't know anyone who has dropped $200 on the Ohio-exclusive cask.) And because I don't want to miss out on all the fun, I participated in three bottle splits.

I'll start with the BevMo single cask.

Distillery: Highland Park
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Region: Islands (Orkney)
Age: 12 years (2004-2017)
Maturation: first fill European sherry butt
Cask #: 6737
Outturn: 360 bottles (cask split?)
Exclusive to: BevMo
Alcohol by Volume: 65.3%
(from a bottle split)

I'm going to conduct this tasting backwards, trying the whisky at lower/diluted strengths before digging into the full strength version.


Hello nose, hello sulfur. Hello lots of sulfur. A little bit of farm, plenty of berry candy and hot fudge. The sulfur fades a bit, but the rest remains.

The palate is grassy, gingery and very very sweet. Some pencil lead and prunes stand out. But it's mostly sulfur.

It's all sulfur, sugar and prunes in the finish.

It's actually impressive how much sulfur can be squeezed into a 43%abv whisky. For a Highland Park, this stinks in more ways than one. Long time readers (do you exist?) know I kinda like a bit of dirty cask here and there, but this one...whew.

DILUTED TO 57%abv (100 UK proof)

There's much less sulfur on the nose. More more fruits (limes and plums) and more chocolate. A good blop of black strap molasses.

Some actual peat appears in the palate, along with prunes, rock salt and a hint of oranges. The sulfur registers louder here than in the nose.

The finish goes flat with salt, pepper, sugar and sulfur.

It's an improvement over the 43%abv version, but not something I'd recommend to anyone, especially not to Highland Park fans.


The nose is tight but not too hot. I smell a fruitcake loaded with cherries, as well as fruity cinnamon and chocolate. The sulfur emerges after some time, as does a raisin note.

The sulfur is most palatable here on the cask strength palate. And it's drinkable though tight, again. Salty and savory, the flavor is boosted with hints of tart citrus and sweet pineapple.

It finishes with bigger notes of salt and pineapple, smaller notes of smoke and sulfur.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but don't add water.


I find it interesting that Highland Park is happy to put their name on this whisky, but not okay with allowing their name on the labels of scores of potentially excellent independent casks. This whisky does not help the brand in any way. Though sulfur-phobes may disagree, this whisky isn't a complete disaster. But it's also not on-brand in its style, and it would PISS ME OFF if I paid $150+ for it. Highland Park puts out great whisky consistently, like few brands do. This is not great whisky.

Availability - Sold out?
Pricing - $150-$160
Rating - 79 (again, don't add water)

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