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Friday, July 16, 2021

Highland Park 16 year old 2003, single cask 1885 for The Whisky Exchange

(Highland Park cluster homepage)

The first two official Highland Park single casks of this cluster-within-a-cluster were 12 years old. This one from TWE, at sixteen years, is one of the oldest of the 220+ single casks that the distillery has dropped in the past three years. Those extra four years has helped bring its alcohol content down from murderous levels to something more familiar. Like the previous two HPs — and the majority of these official casks — this sherry cask was fashioned from "European" oak.

Distillery: Highland Park
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Region: Islands (Orkney)
Age: 16 years (2003-2019)
Maturation: first-fill European oak sherry butt
Cask #: 1885
Outturn: 585 bottles
Exclusive to: The Whisky Exchange
Alcohol by Volume: 58.9%
(from a bottle split)


The nose is reminiscent of the old Glendronach 15 year old Revival (when it was older than 15 years old), but with much more peat. Dates, figs, fresh basil, toffee and molasses fill it all out.

The palate matches the nose nicely. It reads much heavier and richer than 43%abv. There are tart oranges, dates and figs in the foreground. Molasses and black coffee in the background.

It finishes with black coffee, dark chocolate and figs.


Dried currants and almonds in dark chocolate, hints of tar, musty basement and toasted pecans in the nose.

Black coffee and mint leaves lead the palate with a little bit of dried currants and smoke in the background. It develops notes of soil and tangy fresh berries with time.

The long, tingly finish is an assortment of dried berries coated in cocoa powder.


The nose has dried cherries, dried cranberries, honeydew and wood smoke. It gets figgier with time, while also gaining molasses and eel sauce.

The palate has tart berries, tart citrus, tar and tobacco ash at the start. Fresh cherries show up later.

It finish pulls in the sweet and tart fruits from the palate and nose.


I think this sherry bomb's character is what people hope for when they buy a bottle of any of the Highland Park single casks. Big and rich, it fills the senses like few sherry cask whiskies have lately. The bits of smoke and citrus, and its ability to shine when diluted, set it apart from other aggressive-yet-generic sherry bombs. Its price is still hot bananas, but at least the whisky's great.

Availability - The Whisky Exchange
Pricing - £199.99
Rating - 89

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