Category Archives: Highland Park

Highland Park and Linn partner up to release 40 bottles of 40yo whisky and 40 turntables


Islands region – 48.3% ABV – £25,000 or $40,000 (40 bottles that each come with a Linn Sondek LP12 Turntable).

Ummm, yeah…. so… something crazy just happened in my mouth.

I just poured and tasted some of the oldest Highland Park whisky released to date (their 50yo being older than this one, obviously).  As I sat here nosing and tasting the whisky, besides taking notes as fast and furiously as I could, I began to wonder: how on G-d’s green earth could I be so lucky as to taste this juice?!

I am reviewing a whisky that few people in the world can afford.  And, even if all the folks in the world that could afford a bottle tried to get a bottle, they couldn’t.  Forty bottles.  Forty.  Four Zero.  40 bottles released in total.

I can not argue with the price tag of £25,000/$40,000 given the scarcity of the juice and what a bottle comes with:  A Linn Sondek LP12 (and one made with a Highland Park cask).  I was a music geek before I ever got into whisky.  On top of this, I have been a collector of vinyl for years.  I am well aware of Linn as their turntables are the holy grail of turntables. Limted edition Linn Sondek LP12 meets limited edition 40yo Highland Park?!  Where was that bank I wanted to rob???…

Here are my notes for the Highland Park 40yo:

Highland-Park-Linn-Sondek-LP12-1On the nose  –  The first word(s) that comes to mind is wood-tar creosote and an almost mesquite-like, warm-autumn day fired up grill.  Fresh spring rain with old style raincoats as well! Mix in dark chocolates and we are in Wowsville!

Have you heard this one?  A 55 year old maintenance worker walks in to a used book shop with an old wooden tool chest in one hand and teak-wood polish in the other.

Waiting for the punchline?  Don’t those were tasting notes, my friend!!

Truly a lovely Highland Park here with tons of distinguished character.

Yes, I know he's not a Yale professor but I love him nonetheless
Yes, I know he’s not a Yale professor but I love him nonetheless

This is what a Yale professor of bio-ethics drinks on the last day of his career, methinks.

On the mouth – Quite lively on the tongue with a lightly viscous mouthfeel.

Highland-Park-Linn-Sondek-LP12-3Candied orange rinds, polished wood (a la Violin Hero) and 70’s Good and Fruity candies.

Highland-Park-Linn-Sondek-LP12-4After a little time in the glass my next taste reveal cooked, carmelized sugar and powdered police donuts.  There’s an Astropop like quality both in flavor and in the feel of the fluid against the tongue.

Better put, there’s a waxiness to this whisky that I usually only find in Brora or Clynlish (well, sometimes Old Pulteney).

It’s sort of amazing.

Finish – Long, drying finish with some menthol at the very back of the palate.

In sum – 20 minutes in the glass opened this whisky right up.

I will try to explain how luck I am to have tasted this whisky…

A) it was distilled in my birth year, 1973

B) There are only 40 bottles available

C) You can only get a bottle by buying this Linn amazing turntable (which, sadly, we can not afford for my 40th birthday).

D) I don’t currently have $40,000 unless I tap into my 401k which would, of course, initial a divorce.

I’ve got a large vinyl collection that’s just screaming to be played on that turntable while I enjoy some 40yo Highland Park.

Register here for your interest in the whisky and turntable.  Contact me if you need a shipping address to accept your wonderfully generous gift! 🙂

This whisky is in the running for best whisky tasted in 2013.

Special thanks for SR for the sample!

Highland Park Loki – Another fun Marvel Character but this time its a Villain!


Islands region – 48.7%ABV  – $230 – $250

Ah, Marvel’s, nay, Stan Lee’s Loki in all his Eeeeeevil glory.


Wait, what?!  Yes, yes, yes.  Loki the Marvel character NOT the god.  That’s where my brain goes to.    Ah, but look at the picture and it seems that Loki’s thoughts gravitate toward Highland Park whisky!

“In Marvel mythology, Loki is on bad mutha…”

“you shut yo’ mouth!!”

“I’m just talkin’ ’bout Loki!”

“and we can dig it!”

Seriously, I know there’s a “real” mythology to Thor, Loki, Odin, Tyr, Frigga, Thumper, Bambi, Sarah Palin, etc… but growing up as an avid comic reader, to me, Loki is Thor’s total jerky-turkey-of-a-brother.

In both “real” mythology (oxymoron?) and Marvel mythology, Loki is one sneaky, shape-shifty, creepy dude.  Highland Park have decided to use this element of Loki’s character to create their 2nd whisky in their Valhalla series.

Let’s see if the flavors shift.  Let’s see if Loki is tough to pin down.  Let us explore this new Highland Park whisky!

HIGHLAND-PARK-LOKI-WHISKY-1On the nose  Solid peat bricks; sweet, smoldering and smoking.  This is what I imagine that piece of Pure Concentrated Evil smells like at the end of Time Bandits.

(Damn, I love that movie.  I need to watch it again.)

Spice and cayenne pepper meets baked pears meets goarse flowers.

HIGHLAND-PARK-LOKI-WHISKY-2Burning orange peels, cardamom pods and fresh trash bags (the black ones – you know, Hefty, Hefty, Hefty!).

Seems sort of un-Highland Park-y and very Highland Park-y at the same time.

HIGHLAND-PARK-LOKI-WHISKY-3On the mouth More smoked than peated.  Very, very smoky.  Loads of salted licorice nibs and fresh vinyl records.

Like deep sea heavy water forming pools at the bottom of the ocean, all of the flavors seem to be sitting at the bottom of the palate/back of the tongue.

HIGHLAND-PARK-LOKI-WHISKY-4Chocolate and a touch of chicory become apparent after spending some time with this whisky.  Apple butter, generous apple butter spread over burnt soda bread.

Finish Smoky and oaky and loaded with cooked apple skins.

In sum Quite interesting, especially with how the flavors hit the palate.  It’s a sneaky dram, sort of elusive unless you know where to look.  Look toward the back of your tongue and all is revealed.  Fun and different but as with the comic book, Thor is the better of the brothers.  Better put, when comparing the two, Thor is the more approachable of the brothers.

Feel free to read my review of Highland Park’s Thor here.

Special thanks to SR of Highland Park for the sample!

Jewish Whisky Company’s Whisky Jewbilee 2012 event in NYC — it’s coming Thursday, October 25th!

Hosted by the Jewish Whisky Company and Single Cask Nation, the first annual charitable Whisky Jewbilee is fast approaching!!

For those unable to attend WhiskyFest NYC this year (due to it landing on Shabbat), this is your chance to taste some of Scotland, Ireland, and America’s finest whiskies.

Kosher catering by Ari White of Gemstone Catering, food under Star-K.

Click this link for more information and to buy tickets

This charitable whisky event engagement is limited to 250 attendees and is your chance to taste some fantastic whiskies (as shown below):

Distilleries and brands at the event, while not limited to, are listed below:

  • Arran
  • Balcones
  • BenRiach
  • Benromach
  • Catoctin Creek
  • Chieftain’s Range
  • Corsair
  • FEW Spirits
  • GlenDronach
  • Glenrothes
  • Gordon MacPhail
  • Highland Park
  • High West
  • Hirsch Selection
  • Hudson Real American Whiskeys
  • Kilchoman
  • Koval
  • Old Potrero
  • Single Cask Nation
  • Slieve Foy
  • Smokehead
  • Smooth Ambler
  • …plus more to be announced!!

The pouring list is still being developed, however, here is a preliminary list of whiskies:

10 years old
14 years old

Balcones True Blue Whisky
Balcones Single Malt
Balcones Brimstone Smoked Whisky

The BenRiach
10 years old
12 years old
16 years old
20 years old
Dark Rum Cask
PX Cask
**Alistair Walker is scheduled to be at the Whisky Jewbilee!

Catoctin Creek
Roundstone Rye
Mosby’s Spirit
Watershed Gin

Chieftain’s Range
Craigellachie 21 years old
Glen Keith 17 years old

Corsair Wry Moon Unaged Rye Whiskey
Corsair Triple Smoke

FEW Spirits
FEW Rye Whiskey
FEW Bourbon Whiskey
“Special cask selections”

12 years old
15 years old
18 years old
33 years old
**Alistair Walker is scheduled to be at the Whisky Jewbilee!

The Glenrothes
Select Reserve
Alba Reserve
1995 Vintage
1988 Vintage
Editors Cask
…maybe others
**Ronnie Cox is scheduled to be at the Whisky Jewbilee!

Gordon and MacPhail
Benromach 10 years old
Benromach 30 years old
Highland Park 24 years old
Old Pulteney 21 years old
Scapa 11 years old
Tormore 15 years old

Highland Park
Highland Park 12 years old
Highland Park 15 years old
Highland Park 18 years old
Highland Park 30 years old

High West
Double Rye
Rendezvous Rye
Son of Bourye
Campfire Whiskey
Silver Whiskey – Western Oat
American Prairie Reserve Bourbon
“Something special”

Hirsch and Slieve Foy
Hirsch Small Batch Reserve
Slieve Foy Irish 8 years old Single Malt

Hudson Real American Whiskeys
New York Corn Whiskey
Baby Bourbon
Four Grain Bourbon
Hudson Single Malt
Manhattan Rye Whiskey
Half Moon Orchard Gin

Jewish Whisky Company’s Single Cask Nation™
Arran 12 years old
Kilchoman 4 years old
BenRiach Heavily Peated 17 years old

Machir Bay
100% Islay (2nd Edition)

Koval Raksi Millet
Koval Midwest Wheat
Koval Rye Chicago
Lion’s Pride Rye
Lion’s Pride Dark Rye
Lion’s Pride Dark Millet
Lion’s Pride 47th Ward
Koval Rose Hip liqueur
Koval Chrysanthemum Honey liqueur
Koval Ginger liqueur
Koval Coffee liqueur
Koval Jasmin liqueur

Old Potrero
Old Potrero 18th Cetury Rye
Old Potrero Straight Rye


Smooth Ambler
Smooth Ambler Yearling
Smooth Ambler Bourbon
Smooth Ambler Rye
This is a charitable event with a portion of the evening’s proceeds being donated to charity.

Highland Park Thor. Hammers not included.

Islands region – 52.1%ABV – $180 | £120

I want to take the high road and not talk about the packaging choice for this whisky.  However, such a statement suggests that I am not a fan of the packaging and this is simply not the case.

I actually think the packaging is sort of cool.  Is it a bit over the top?  Yes.  Does it add on cost to the final selling price of the product?  Of course it does.  Can I use the wooden portion in someway?  (If I ever start playing Dungeons and Dragons again and *need* a prop to represent the boat to cross the River Styx???)  You’re gosh darned right I can!

I dig the concept for this new line of whiskies from Highland Park – a line that highlights Orkney’s Scandinavian history.  I also like the fact that, as opposed to the four vintages released by Highland Park recently, this whisky (23,000 bottles in all) is released at cask strength.

If I have one complaint about Highland Park (and I think there’s *only one* complaint), it’s that a majority of their whiskies are released at 40-43% ABV.  Thor, on the other hand, has been bottled at the wonderfully tasty strength of 52.1%ABV.

So, let us see how the Hammer of the Gods tastes.  Will it pack a punch?  Can it live up to the legend of Thor’s might?  I’m dying to find out…

On the nose Forceful, sweet and malty, this Highland Park grabbed me off the bat with lovely, lightly smoked, tropical fruits (a mixture of pineapple and lemon).

I can not tell a lie, the nose on this whisky is intoxicatingly beautiful.

There’s a bit of spice and orange flavored salt water taffies.

The balance between sweet, spice, malt, light peating level…  Really, really lovely.

On the mouth The peat is much more upfront here.  In fact, it’s the first thing to greet me upon initial sip.

Spicy along the side of the tongue.  Sweet and malty (again) right down the center of the tongue.

There’s a good deal of honey comb in here and the mouthfeel is both oily and effervescent-like at the same time.

There’s a fruity tartness here as well.

While *nothing* like the Highland Park 18yo, it has the same wonderful balance found in that whisky.

Finish Long, spicy, oily and filled with slightly burned things.

In sum  Four words: I am in love.  While I join the camp that thinks the packaging is over the top, there’s no denying that the liquid inside the bottle is exquisite.  I *shudder* at the thought that people will buy this whisky for its packaging and stick it on their whisky shelf to collect dust with the rest of the collection.  This whisky needs to be enjoyed.  Yeah, it’s that good.

Special thanks to Steph R for the sample!

Four, count them, four single cask whiskies bottled by Master of Malt

There is no shortage of Independent bottlers of whisky and to me, that’s a good thing.  The more the merrier.

The independent bottler offers to the whisky consumer (both newbies and veterans) a bit more of an adventure into the wide world of whisk(e)y.  Please understand, I’m not down on distillers’ own bottlings (E.G. Highland Park 18yo, Arran 14yo, Ardbeg Corryvreckan, etc…).   What I am trying to point out is that Independent bottlers allow the consumer more variety and flavors and other ways to love the distilleries they’re already familiar with.  Their bottlings also allow for newbies to whisky a different way to “get into” whisky.


Master of Malt is not only a whisky/spirits shop but they also independently bottle single casks of whisky from time to time (and seemingly more and more often).

Here is a link for a comprehensive guide to Independent Bottlers (as found on Serge’s

Today I am reviewing four single cask bottlings from Master of Malt:

  • A 20yo Single Cask of Cragganmore,
  • A 13yo Single Cask of Highland Park,
  • A 14yo Single Cask of Dalmore,
  • and, finally, a 27yo Single Cask Dailuaine whisky

Cragganmore 1991 20yo

Speyside Region – Refill Hogshead (sample did not specify bourbon or sherry but from the color and flavors, I’m supposing it’s an ex-bourbon hogshead) – 54.2%ABV – £49.95

On the nose Light, perfumed and a bit salty smelling.  Very floral (if you have a significant other who digs whisky, get some of this for her or him.  You can’t drink a bouquet of flowers but you can drink this!).  Some latex glove notes which seem to be oddly mixed up with pine nuts.  Ashes from burnt notebook paper with a side of white pepper.  A bit of a biting nose – smells of 54.2% ABV…

Coming back to this and the peppery quality really stands out.

On the mouth Slightly vicious mouth feel, good attack.  Fruit salad, half dried-out orange wedges and, if I’m not mistaken, an owl barn.  Water cress, sugared lemon slices and a touch of butterscotch.

Cedar wood shavings which is now leading up to the finish…

Finish Drying, long and filled with those sugared lemon slices I got on the palate.

In sum  This is a solid, solid, Craggy.  One that’s geared more toward the late spring or early summer; a mid-day dram to pick you up a bit.

Highland Park 1997 13yo

Islands Region – refill ex-bourbon hogshead – 57%ABV – £44.95

On the nose Vitamin E gel caps (those gelatin, vitamin E fluid filled pills) and medicated Band-Aids™.  Some notes of unripened stone fruits (apricot, peach, etc..).  Orangey baby aspirins with a side of cherry tarts; or vice versa…

A smokey undertone, with medicinal overtones, hospital beds & sharps disposal cans.

On the mouth Sweet & smokey attack right upfront with a creaminess that hits the spot.  Back to the citrus but more toward tart lemons or perhaps kumquat (teehee).  Polypropylene pellets quickly becoming plastic containers via plastic injection molding machines.

Magnifying glass + sun + brush and branches = a flavor I’m tasting here.

Finish Drying, smoky and medicinal.  A touch of oak and vanilla and after about 30 seconds, marzipan

In sum As a Highland Park, I’m not a fan.  This is nothing like any HP you’ll ever taste.  Take away the name and it’s a pretty good whisky!  It’s not mind-blowing but it’s fun and interesting.  I’d suggest using this as one to fool your friends with.  They’ll never guess this was a Highland Park.

Dalmore 1996 14yo

Highlands Region – Refill Hogshead (sample did not specify bourbon or sherry but from the color and flavors, I’m supposing it’s an ex-bourbon hogshead) – 57%ABV – £44.95

On the nose  An oaky influence and all things Bourbon: pencil shavings, toasted almonds and model glue.  Fresh and bright as well as a touch of toastiness and even a touch of brine.  This is a Dalmore??  Dried apricots and vanilla cream.  Walnuts, almonds and get this, egg whites.

An enjoyable nose; a vibrant nose.

On the mouth What, what, what?  Where did the 14 years of aging go?  On the outset, this whisky tastes A) YOUNG & spirity and B) and a bit like a grain whisky or a young blend.  After getting used to how different the flavor is as compared to the smells, I’m presented with hints of maple syrup, orange rind and orange juice and very puckering fresh white wine grapes (stolen off the vine during a vineyard tour).

Hi-octane ice wine.

Finish Peppery finish, long and offering up some apricot

In sum The nose, wonderful.  To taste, however… from the get-go I was very disappointed.  I warmed up to it a bit once I began to understand it but in the end, it’s not one that I would reach for.  For the price, it might be fun to explore however there are some better single cask whiskies offered up by Master of Malt (and other indy bottlers) that you can spend your money on.

Dailuaine 1983 27yo

Speyside Region – Refill Sherry Hogshead – 53.6%ABV – £64.95

On the nose  This is an interesting mix of scents and jammed into a tight little package.  We’re talking soy sauce (with a side of ginger slices) meets wood char meets dandelion jam.  On top of this, there’s a nice ooey honey center and something a bit like spiced gum drops yet not like spiced gum drops… spicy nutmeg cakes maybe.  I can’t pinpoint it but the scent is near intoxicating.  Reminds me of cold nights with lots of family and LOTS of holiday heavy cakes.

Rum raisins (and the sugared raisins you find in a bowl of Raisin Bran™).

On the mouth Loads of raisiny spice notes.  Cinnamon swirl bread, Cinnamon Toast Crunch™.  Flavors aside, let’s look at the mouthfeel – Slightly viscous with a tinge of effervescence.  Hints of orange spice.

Do you see a theme here?  SPICE! (desert planet, Arakis.  Mother!!  The sleeper has awoken!)

Finish A sweet finish with some warm butteriness to it.

In sum In all honesty, I bought a bottle of this stuff halfway into reviewing it.  No shit.

This is a kick-ass bottle of single cask Dailuaine and oh-so-perfect for colder/cool weather.  It’s warming, comforting, soothing, delicious.

Special thanks goes out to the fine chaps and chappesses from Master of Malt for the samples!