1997 Highland Park 20 "Old Particular" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) SKU #1331548


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Tasting Notes

Highland Park is truly a product of its environment. The distillery lays just a few degrees outside the bounds of the Arctic Circle on an island devoid of trees and ravaged by wind, yet relatively mild in temperature swings. This unique location coupled with the extra effort of floor malting their own barley on site are some of the components that lead to an awards list a mile long. This list includes many Gold and Double Gold medals for the distillery and its various bottlings. The barley is malted with local peat from Hobbister Moor, dense in heather, and providing an unusually floral characteristic to the smoke. The gale force winds carry the salt sea air through the barrel houses giving the whisky a salty tanginess that is all together different than the iodine characteristics of Islay. Weighing in at 53.1% alcohol and well below the $550 price tag of the 25 year old distillery bottling, this 20 year old Old Particular cask really struts the salt air and delicate floral smoke. Charged from a refill hogshead.

Staff Reviews

  • David Othenin-Girard
    By: David Othenin-Girard
    K&L Staff Member
    Easily the best modern release of Highland Park I've ever tasted. HP is always great, but a lot of their special releases/cask strength offerings are overpriced and underwhelming. But this amazing cask of Highland Park delivers something that we just haven't seen since the old days. What I'm talking about it balanced sherry, Orkney peat and tons of character. Even tasting the high marks 25 & 30, which have refinement and nuance, they lack the complexity and depth of character that this special whisky exhibits at 5-10 times less the price. You'll kick yourself if you wait to taste this stuff before we sell out. If you can afford it, buy 3.
  • Jeffrey Jones
    By: Jeffrey Jones
    K&L Staff Member
    A wonderful single cask from Highland Park. This cask offers both balance and harmony, with all aspects working together to create a delicious treat. I tasted both with water and without. Without water it is more intense and round. With a touch of water the nose opens up some showing pretty and delicate smoke and floral notes. This leads to a flavors that are complex , layered and subtle. There is a nice dry finish.
  • Gary Westby
    By: Gary Westby
    K&L Staff Member
    I was blown away by this cask strength Highland Park from the first little sniff. After adding a few drops of water, it only got better. This has it all: rich, almondy nuttiness, sweet and savory sherry depth and more than a hint of Orkney smoke on the super long finish. With supplies of great distilleries like Highland Park disappearing from the stocks of specialty bottlers, this extraordinarily fine 20 year old is looking like a value, even if it is not inexpensive. If you are looking for profound, old, sherry influenced malt from one of the great island distilleries, you have found it!
  • David Driscoll
    By: David Driscoll
    K&L Staff Member
    If you look at the label of the new Highland Park 20 exclusive K&L cask, all it tells you about the barrel is it was a "refill hogshead." That being said, all you need to do is look at the color and take a small sip to know that hogshead was most definitely re-coopered from a sherry butt. I've been sipping on a sample all morning long, letting the sweet, raisiny flavor coat my palate, while chewing on the subtle smoke that permeates the finish. I was thinking about how one of Scotland's most famous distillers (one that I won't name since he works for a rival company) once told me: "Highland Park is the king of all malts." There are numerous single malt fanatics who consider Highland Park the world's best whisky, right along side Macallan at the top of the food chain (both are owned by Edrington as well, if you didn't know). This 20 year single cask, full proof expression should help to bolster that case. It's rich, textural, utterly complex, and runs the gambit from sweet to peat with incredible nuance. While $200 isn't exactly what I'd call a "value," let me contrast this price with the 12 year old distillery-direct sherry hogshead I purchased from Highland Park this past January (due in later this year). That full proof edition should come in somewhere between $150 -$170 per bottle. That's the added premium that a distillery-bottled expression carries. Nevertheless, I bought it because it was one of the best sherry-aged whiskies I'd tasted in months. That being said, for an extra $40 or so in this case, you can get a 20 year old version of the same make and provenance.
  • Andrew Whiteley
    By: Andrew Whiteley
    K&L Staff Member
    This is one of the most complex Old Particular casks we have ever bottled. The nose is at first full of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with a touch of cracked rock salt but gives way to the much more delicate aroma of stone fruits and tree blossoms. The palate is dense with dried figs, caramel, brioche, Christmas spices, and the savory notes of lightly smoked meats. The barley itself seems take center staged for a moment before fleeing into the background leaving behind a wisp of orange and smoke, like a hip bartender flashing the citrus oil before dropping the garnish peel into your Old Fashioned. The finish is particularly lengthy here and changes slightly with each sip. Every sampling leaves you with a different impression than the one before, but each contributes to building the complete picture of what 20 long years of age does for one of the world's greatest distilleries.


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