Review: Highland Park Cask Strength (Release No. 1)

Regular readers of this site know my absolute love for Highland Park. Many of the distillery’s releases live among my favorites, including their absolutely exquisite 25-year-old. That one is certainly in my top 3 regularly available whiskies. So it’s quite exciting for me to taste their latest release – Highland Park Cask Strength.

Gordon Motion, the distillery’s Master Whisky Maker, used mostly sherry-seasoned American oak casks of different ages for this batch. The bottling comes in a 63.3% ABV and is non-chill filtered.

This is Highland Park like I’ve never experienced before. The nose is robust, with hints of vanilla, peat smoke, and sherried fruit jumping out of the glass. It tends to lean on the sweet and smoky side of things. The peat here is more aromatic and heather than the briny campfire variety one gets on Islay whiskies. There’s a satisfying intensity on the palate. Notes of sweet toffee, vanilla, and fresh fruit provide a rock solid foundation. A building heathery peat sits comfortably in the background. Mid-palate sees the introduction of dark chocolate and orange peel. The finish is long and warming, with lingering hints of caramel-drizzled berries and baking spice.

Highland Park Cask Strength’s high ABV coats the palate and provides big hits of flavor. Surprisingly, even at an ABV north of 63%, the whisky can be enjoyed without the addition of water. However, a splash of water slightly lessens the sweet character and separates the flavor notes a bit. It doesn’t carry an age statement, but I can’t detect any super-young malt here. It retains the freshness of young whisky without any of that “green” immature character.

Compared to Highland Park 12-year-old, HP Cask Strength doesn’t have as much spice in the mid-palate. HP 12 is a little more savory in the palate versus HP Cask Strength’s overall sweeter profile.

Highland Park Cask Strength is a masterfully crafted whisky. This is hands down a must-buy for any Highland Park fan. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Highland Park for the review sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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