single malt scotch whisky

Laphroaig 27-Year-Old Whisky Review

Laphroaig ends the year on a high note with the release of its 27-year-old single malt. This expression is the latest entry in the brand’s Super Premium series, following exquisite 32-year-old and 30-year-old whiskies, released in 2015 and 2016, respectively. For this 2017 release, whiskies matured in refill hogsheads were transferred to first-fill ex-bourbon barrels and refill quarter casks. After more than a quarter century of maturation, Laphroaig 27-year-old is bottled at 83.4 proof, or 41.7 ABV. It would be safe to assume this is cask strength given its random proof.

The whisky carries rich aromas of tropical fruit, leather, peat, citrus, and vanilla. On entry, vanilla cream develops into key lime pie, tobacco leaf, and tropical fruit punch. Hints of earthy peat and smoke begin gently piercing though but don’t overpower the other flavors. Of note is the whisky’s oily mouthfeel, which coats the palate in flavor. Though Laphroaig 27-year-old is a low 83.4 proof, it doesn’t present itself as thin or watered down. The finish is long and slightly warming with a citrus-tinged smoky character.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a fan. Laphroaig has another winner on their hands with this release. It is a satisfying, well-matured, and balanced whisky. Laphroaig lovers with deep pockets ($750 a bottle) should seek this out quickly, as it’s a one-time release. Highly recommended! 8.5/10

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


Highland Park Full Volume Whisky Review

Just in time for the holidays, Highland Park has released their newest creation – Full Volume. The distillery compares the creation of Full Volume to that of producing music. How’s that? It’s about keeping balance while delivering full, big flavors. Same with music. You want the final mix to sound balanced and, even when played at full volume, without distortion.

The distillery is known for exclusively using ex-sherry casks for maturing whisky. This is where Full Volume makes a left turn. It is created using only ex-bourbon casks. Two hundred barrels and 250 hogsheads, to be exact. The casks were filled in 1999 and the whisky bottled in 2017. Eagle eyed readers will notice the lack of an actual age statement. If this whisky were 18 years old, I think Highland Park would proudly tout that. Just putting that out there for those who care. Age statements don’t mean as much to me as the quality of whisky in the bottle.

The nose on this pale golden whisky is incredible. Bourbon barrel influences of soft vanilla and coconut complement Highland Park’s signature floral and heathery peat character. A bit of light toffee and sweet oak relax in the background. Bottled at 47.2% abv, Full Volume has oily legs for days. Creamy vanilla, lemon tart, and cinnamon toast form most of the flavor profile. Touches of light smoke and leather appear in the background. The finish is medium in length and rather clean in nature, leaving behind lingering hints of lemon custard, light baking spice, and a wisp of smoke.

Full Volume is a delightful deviation from the distillery’s profile of sherry cask maturation. Kudos to Highland Park for bottling this release higher than 40% abv. The blender was after balance and that’s what he achieved here, especially for the $110 retail price. Wonderful stuff! 8.5/10

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

Highland Park Valkyrie Single Malt Whiskey Review

There's something about the way Highland Park intermingles sherry casks and their signature heather-filled peat that excites me. It's one of my favorite flavor combinations. With their new Valkyrie release, the folks at Highland Park have ramped up the smokiness with the addition of more peated malt. Though Highland Park traditionally use only ex-sherry casks for its whiskies, Valkyrie sees a majority American Oak sherry-seasoned casks and ex-bourbon casks.

The bottle was designed by Danish designer Jim Lynvgild, who turned to Viking mythology as inspiration. Orkney, Highland Park's home, probably has more in common with its Nordic ancestry than it does with its Scottish one. Highland Park has fully embraced the Viking culture over the last several years, even redesigning its core bottles in 2017 to reinforce its Nordic heritage.

The nose here carries the classic HP aromas of sweet malt, dried fruits, heather and some freshly squeezed lemon juice. A touch of orchard fruit pops out of hiding from time to time. Those smoky and fruity notes are alive and well on the palate as well. An initial burst of red fruits lead to spice, dried fruit, figs, heather, and fresh ginger. A moderate wisp of smoke builds. The finish is long, with lingering notes of spiced fruit and light smoke.

Wonderful. Simply wonderful. Cranking up the smoke characteristics over the sherried malt base simply works. I like this NAS offering more than Dark Origins. Valkyrie doesn't come across as vibrant as that other expression, mainly due to its slightly lower abv (it is 45.9% here, by the way), but feels richer and more complex. It reminds me most of the 12-year-old expression with a little more zing. Nicely done! 8.5/10