single malt scotch whisky

Review: Highland Park 30-year-old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

Photo courtesy of Highland Park

I get to taste lots of wonderful whiskies. Sometimes, a whisky on my “must taste” list comes across my sample table. I can now scratch Highland Park 30-year-old off that list.

Aged at least three long decades in mostly first-fill Spanish and American oak sherry casks as well as refill casks, Highland Park 30 utilizes the distillery’s traditional 20% peated / 80% unpeated spirit. That peat is from Orkney and carries the distillery’s signature aromatic heather note. It’s bottled at 45.7% ABV and not colored.

The nose is dark and sweet, with hints of dark toffee, dried figs, nutmeg, cocoa, and some citrus. Taste-wise, Highland Park 30 carries some weight. This is not a light summer whisky. It’s oily, with hints of dark toffee, roasted nuts and dried fruit while being imbued with rancio and Highland Park’s heathery peat smoke. There’s a touch of baking spice and old oak heading into the long finish. There are lingering notes of dark fruit, spice, peat, and oak.

This whisky is stunning… simply stunning. For carrying such a high age statement, Highland Park 30-year-old still has a bit of vibrancy in the form of come citrus that helps cut through the darker, heavier notes. This rich and decadent whisky comes at an equally high price. A bottle will cost you $900. I’d better start saving.


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

Cigar Pairing: Quintero Panetelas


Autumn weather means one thing – time to bust out a few cigars.  Online cigar boutique Montefortuna Cigars was kind enough to send over a couple of Cubans and asked that I pair each one with a different whiskey.

To kick things off, I decided to reach for Quintero Panetelas, a small but fiesty cigar.  It’s relatively inexpensive and packs quite the flavor.  It’s made with tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo and Semi Vuelta.

After a few initial puffs, I poured a glass of Glenmorangie Signet, and am glad I did.

Annoyingly, the cigar itself had a very tight draw at first, but improved slightly as time passed.  Glenmorangie Signet is a wonderfully balanced.  The whisky’s dark chocolate and sherry profile beautifully complemented the cigar’s bold tobacco and slightly woody taste.  Because of its small size, the stick lasted about a half hour, making it a great choice for a daily smoker.  I typically drink one glass of whisky while smoking a cigar.  However, these two paired so well I poured another glass of whisky to help finish off the cigar.  That’s saying something.

Quintero Panetelas can be purchased at

Thanks to Montefortuna Cigars for the cigar.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Review: Speyburn 15-Year-Old Single Malt Whisky

My introduction to Speyburn a couple of years ago came in the form of its 10-year-old and NAS expressions.  Their light and approachable character was matched with their very affordable price tag.  Flavor-wise, it’s like a sort of second cousin to Glenmorangie 10yr, without the floral notes.  What’s not to love!

The brand’s core range grew with the recent addition of a 15-year-old single malt.  Priced at $65, Speyburn 15yr is still easy on the wallet.  It matured in a combination of American oak and Spanish oak (read ex-bourbon and ex-sherry) casks.

The nose hints at a creamy whisky, with vanilla, orange peel, and dried fruit.  It reminds me of a custard dessert like a crème caramel.  On the palate, creamy toffee and vanilla kick things off.  Developing soon after are spice notes, dried fruits and semi-sweet chocolate.  Bitter orange appears on the back palate.  The long finish is warm, with hints of creamy vanilla and orange peel.

Compared to its younger 10-year-old sibling, Speyburn 15-year-old manages to bring a slightly darker and elegant quality to the table – the toffee’s a bit darker, more spice, and the addition of dark chocolate.  The dried fruit add even more complexity.

I’m a fan, even with the $30 – $40 markup for an extra five years of maturation.  It is still cheaper than a lot of 15-year-old single malts on the market.  Speyburn is value-driven without sacrificing quality, and that’s something I always appreciate.  Highly recommended! 8.5/10

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

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