Highland Park 30 Year Old

Highland Park 30 Years Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky
48.1% ABV, 96.2 Proof
About $350 to $475
Limited Worldwide Availability

What the Distillery Says:

The flagship variant of the Highland Park range was first released in April 2005. By its very nature, this whisky is only available in limited quantities. It is, however, worth seeking out as the ultimate expression of the distillery’s character.

Tasting notes
Colour: Rich, Coppery amber
Bouquet: Spicy, aromatic, nutmeg and darkest chocolate
Palate: Force 9 Flavour, toffee, dark chocolate orange and Hobbister Hill peat
Finish: Rich, long, smokey and surprisingly sweet

Highland Park 30 Year Old merits time and attention. It has spent 30 years maturing so treat it with respect; you’ll discover the characteristic fudge sweetness together with complex aromatic spices and dark chocolate orange. It has a drying finish, leaving a gentle smokey flavour and a mildly salty aftertaste – the result of 30 years aging in the Orkney sea spray.

What Richard Says:

Nose: Luxurious. Layers of complexity not easily stripped apart. Candied fruit, chocolate, and a cherry sweetness.
Palate: The sweetness from the sherry blasts you in the face but in a very good way. It warms the mouth with light peat and hints of the sea. Seaweed. Gorgeous mouth feel with a kick from the added proof. A monster of flavor that dances on air. The Muhammad Ali of Malt!
Finish: The burn from the alcohol is like a flash fire…there and gone. No linger to the alcohol at all. As it clears the mouth it leaves a little more peat but overall it finishes leaving you with the same characteristics of the palate.
Comments: This is a magnificent experience. You want everyone to try it but don’t want to share.
Rating: Must Buy

What Matt Says:

Nose: Luxury, chocolate covered cherries, peat, hippy cigars (Acid brand Liquid cigars to be precise)
Palate: Robust and delicate at the same time, balanced, sweet, dark chocolate, ripe berries, sherry, peat and brine.
Finish: Like a muted version of the palate with a hint more peat. The burn is a flash that disappears almost before you feel it.
Comment: I have no words to express my love for this whiskey. This is why we drink whisky. If you can afford to spend $350 on a bottle of whisky, buy this one.
Rating: Must Buy

I feel the need to add a little more commentary on this bottle. First, Matt and I both agreed that the layers of flavor were too amazing for us to adequately describe. What you see above is our meager attempt at describing a wonderful drinking experience. Also, it’s hard to rate something that costs several hundred dollars a bottle as a Must Buy. We realize that it’s a lot of money for the average person, especially in these trying economic times. That said, if you have the means definitely pick up a bottle. You will not be sorry.

Overall Rating: Must Buy

Good Times, Great Friends, and Greater Whiskey

This past weekend I had the distinct honor of having Mr. & Mrs. Matt down in Atlanta for a visit.  I don’t really get to see them that often and the distance between NYC and Atlanta seems much farther upon their departure than the two hour flight it entails.  We had BBQ, good conversations and a considerable amount of great whiskey. 

So what does all this mean for our readers?  Well of course we were working during this visit too.   I’ll get the reviews of that lovely 30 Year Old Highland Park I got for my birthday posted soon.  We also did a great single malt comparison for the Gateway series that is soon to come. 

Why am I just telling you about it all instead of posting it?  I don’t know.  Lazy I guess.  To make up for the delay let me give you something that is just too good not to pass along.  Sometime between BBQ and bourbon we came across a great milkshake recipe that we all agreed must be posted for the greater good.  This recipe is for Bourbon Ball Milkshakes.  The recipe was created by Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in Louisville, KY.  It was recently printed in Martha Stewart Living.

Bourbon Ball Milkshakes (makes 4)

12 large scoops (about a 1/2 gallon) vanilla ice cream

4 ounces (1/2 cup) bourbon, preferably Woodford Reserve

2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus 1/4 cup, whipped, for serving

1 cup walnut halves, plus more chopped for serving

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Puree ice cream, bourbon, heavy cream, walnuts, and chocolate chips in a blender. Divide among four 16-ounce glasses.

Top with whipped cream. Garnish with walnuts and chocolate chips.

I didn’t have any Woodford Reserve on hand (gasp!) or walnuts so we made it with Basil Hayden’s but its was still fantastic.  Go ahead and whip up a batch, you won’t be sorry.  And I promise to get those reviews posted soon.

– Richard

Greatest Wife In The World

My lovely wife Elizabeth is the greatest wife in the world.  Why?  Well, today is my birthday.  I turned 30 today.  To mark this special occasion she gave me a very special present.  I just received a bottle of 30 Year old Highland Park Single Malt Scotch.  Yep, that’s right.  Eat your heart out.

How does it taste?  Matt’s coming back to Atlanta next week and we’ll sit down for a dram when he’s here (Matt’s also 30 for another three months or so) and work out our thoughts with a formal review to follow.  John Hansell gave it a 94/100 so you should expect to hear good things. 

Let’s from any of you out there about the great whiskeys you’ve  received.

– Richard

More Japanese Whisky Coming Stateside

I was reading through my daily dose of whiskey industry news this more and I came across a note in John Hansell’s blog about a Japanese blend coming to the US.  Suntory is releasing the 12 year old Hibiki blend to the U.S.  on October 1st.  You can get additional details on the whisky here.

For those who haven’t had a chance to try any of the great spirits coming from the land of the Rising Sun then you are missing out.  But given the few bottlings that make it here who can blame you.  Right now you can find Yamazaki 12 and 18 year old and that’s about it unless you have an exceptional specialist retailer near you.  I tried these first at WhiskyFest NY back in 2007 and I was really amazed.  Especially with the 18 year old.  So it is with a good bit of excitement that I’m awaiting the new Hibiki release from Suntory.  Hopefully some will make it down to Atlanta but if not I’ll have to have Matt score me a bottle.

Gateway Series #9: Johnnie Walker Black

Johnnie Walker Black Label Old Scotch Whisky (12yo)
40% ABV, 80 Proof
About $35-40
Available pretty much everywhere

What The Distillery Says:
An acclaimed masterpiece of blending craftsmanship, the rich and smooth Johnnie Walker Black Label is an award-winning blend.

With a depth and complexity drawn from over 40 select whiskies, including the fresh fruitiness of Glendullan, the opulent Mortlach, the earthy Talisker and the creamy, vanillan Cameron Brig, Black Label…it is at once powerful, intriguing and unassailably elegant.  Small wonder it was Sir Winston Churchill’s whisky of choice.

What Richard Says:
Nose: Fresh cut wood, vanilla (extract not bean) and citrus notes that seemed to be a muted orange fragrance.  With water the peat that was so absent without water goes to the forefront.  The water actually disperses the unique notes and makes it smell like generic scotch.
Palate: Salty and smoky with hints of pepper peeking around the edges.  It leaves the mouth feeling brined.  Water opens up the palate a little and adds floral sweetness.
Finish: Smooth on the throat and a mixture of salt and smoke in the mouth.
Comments: I wish some of the more delicate notes on the nose came through on the palate.  It seems odd to me that adding water destroys the nose and opens the palate.  Usually for whiskeys bottled at 40 to 43% ABV the opposite occurs.  That said, Johnnie Walker Black isn’t bad and it’s always consistent.  I could drink this straight but I’d still probably prefer not to.
Rating: Average

What Matt Says:
Nose: Earthy, roasted nuts, citrus, and vegetal.
Palate: Peat, spice, grain, citrus, are the strongest flavors.  With water, some sweetness that I can’t place comes out.  It’s not really honey or sugar (or even burnt sugar).
Finish: Long finish.  Sweetness, smoke, vegetal, brine.
Comments: Not one of the best blends on the market, but a good starter.  Black Label is rounder and better developed than Red Label and more complex than Dewar’s White Label.  I don’t mind this neat, but I think it really shines in a simple cocktail or just with some soda.
Rating:  Average

Overall Rating:  Average.  A good gateway blend.