...where distraction is the main attraction.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Highland Park 21 year old 1992 Gordon & MacPhail (my bottle)

(Highland Park cluster homepage)

I had to open up something for this cluster, and this bottle had "FFS, Open Me" written all over it. I found this thing sitting on a shelf six years after it arrived in the US, at its original price. It wasn't cheap, but it also wasn't much more expensive than the rebranded official 18yo "Viking Pride". That's a win, nowadays. It's from a refill American hogshead, which was the main reason I was able to find it at all. Scotch taters ain't climbin' over each other for a hoggie.

Distillery: Highland Park
Ownership: The Edrington Group
Region: Islands (Orkney)
Independent Bottler: Gordon & MacPhail
Range: Cask Strength
Age: 21 years old (2 September 1992 - 14 January 2014)
Maturation: Refill American Hogshead
Alcohol by Volume: 56.1%
(from my bottle, from the top third)


The nose begins with so much fruit: guava, grapefruit and apricots. Then soil, wet sand and kelp. A little bit of dunnage in the background. Horseshit. I mean, actual horse poop. Diluted to 46%abv, the nose is positively loaded with stone fruits and tropical fruits. Gravel, citronella and ground cloves in the middle. Almond extract and dunnage in the background.

Oh my, the palate has the nose's guavas and grapefruits. And mango! And yuzu (you knew that was coming)! The fruits merge with minerals, hay, toasted sunflower seeds and almonds. At 46%abv, the palate is slightly peater and tarter, more of a fighter. A swirl of sweet mango and tart guava juices in the background.

Perfect balance of sweet and tart fruits in the finish. Then there's gravel, crisp smoke and a farmy hint. It gets smoker once reduced to 46%abv, with plenty of tart limes and yuzus to back it up.


Was this one of those secret casks we weren't supposed to talk about? Well, it's been seven years, so...

This is fabulous. This is the American oak cask to beat for the whole HP cluster. It's exactly what I hope for when trying a non-sherried Highland Park. The nose has all the good things working together in unison, then somehow the palate mirrors it. It's probably the guava-est whisky I've ever had.

How much did I like it? Well, I consumed it so enthusiastically during the tasting that I had to delay this post for a day. I wanted to write about it with a clearer head, but here I am raving about a whisky coming from my own cabinet.

Availability - USA, though it might be sold out
Pricing - $180-$250
Rating - 91