When it was initially released in 2018, this single cask release by Highland Park was excludively available at Arlanda Airport in Stockholm, Sweden. Over time, however, some bottles also ended up in other parts of the world. I bought mine at EDF Duty Free Paradise on the island of Helgoland in the North Sea. After trying a sip at the shop’s in-house bar, I could not help but take a bottle back to the mainland. What makes this particular Highland Park so special, you might ask? Well, first there is its complexity – while enjoying it, I traversed layer after layer of taste, always discovering something new. Second, there is its roundedness – the overproof ABV is perfectly interwoven and the many different notes harmonize with each other in a most beautiful way. And third, there is its exclusivity – after all, you don’t stumble upon such a whisky on any street corner. The last-mentioned point also marks a hurdle: While I wholeheartly recommend you to “arrest” the Highland Park 12yo Single Cask for Arlanda Airport on sight, I cannot tell you where you will find it for a good price. Unless, of course, you happen to go to Helgoland or Stockholm in the near future …
Eye: Light-brown table wood with a shimmering polish.
Nose: Complexity! Sweetness, fruitiness, smokiness and roundedness all mingle in a playful way. Runny caramel, thick honey, sunny mangoes, cooked cherries, light grapes and crumbled macadanias form a wonderful tapestry of aromas. As they prance and mingle in the nostrils, a thin cloud of smoke floats over them. With time the nose gets nuttier, shifting more and more into a funfair direction (burnt almonds, caramelized peanuts). Oh yes … give me more, please!
Palate: This strong, island-born Scotch is full of colorful flavors: vanilla pods, papaya chunks, sunflower seeds, rum truffles, apple chips and breakfast cereals with raisins and choc-bits. There’s something grassy and mossy about the whisky, too. And something mineral. The sweet smoke, which reminds me of slow-burning spring flowers and herbs, is well pronounced but not overpowering. Really: There is a lot going on here, and every bit seems perfectly aligned – not only with the previous one, but also with the next.
Finish: The prolonged aftertaste is very exciting and fulfilling – just as you would expected it from a whisky that had already unleashed such a flood of aromas during the nosing and sipping. It has a lot of fruity, juicy, sugary and minty notes as well as a good amount of pastry and a bit of smoke. In the back, there is also a pinch of salt.
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Region: Scotland (Islands)
Age: 12yo (2005/2018)
Alc. volume: 62.4 per cent
Bottle size: 0.7 litres
Price range: ~125.00 Euro
Cask type: Refill hogshead
Limitation: 375 bottles
More info: https://www.highlandparkwhisky.com/en (Distillery)