Highland Park 1981
24 year old Island 55.8 % vol
1 of only 247 bottles from cask no. 6088
Difficult to tell from the deep amber colour of this whisky whether it comes from a sherry butt or a bourbon hogshead (actually, it’s the latter), and the nose gives little away. The first scent is reminiscent of sewing-machine oil (a light mineral aroma) with a whiff of smoke in the background, as if the sewing machine had been over-worked! Soon this changes to ‘flaking varnish’ – an old, clinker-built rowing boat in the sun – and later a scent of fudge, with dried heather roots and extinguished bonfire. The smoky element comes through well when tasted at natural strength. Water opens it up and makes it more floral (jasmine?), and the oil now has a heavier scent. The mouth-feel is big and oily; the taste sweet to start, with some acidity, drying pleasantly with a thread of smoke in the finish. A big, manly dram, and an excellent example of the make.
Gold Medal winner, Whisky Magazine Independent Bottlers' Challenge 2006