Friday 21 October 2022

Tasted #599: Highland Park 50 Year Old (2020 Release) (TimeforWhisky 10 Year Anniversary Dram)

Just over a year ago, I wrote about the HK launch of the Highland Park 50 and 18yo Single Cask Edition 4. Unfortunately, unlike the days of old, launch events for rare old bottles these days don't tend to feature tastings of the whisky being launched, so the 50 Year Old wasn't available for tasting.

Fast forward a few weeks though, and good mate Kam of Dram Good Stuff held one of his trademark epic dinners, where a small group open a crazy bottle (this time, the Highland Park 50) and everyone gets a generous share over a fantastic meal. Whilst I wasn't at the event, Kam was kind enough to share a taste of what was left afterwards.

I've been sitting on these tasting notes for a while, waiting for the right occasion to post them. This whisky very nearly became Tasted post #600...but I decided on something even more insane for that (as for what, you'll have to wait until tomorrow)!

This Highland Park 50 Year Old is actually the 3rd release. The first, released in 2010 in a Sterling Silver-wrapped bottle was followed by a second, released in 2018, with a silver design from design firm Discommon, and finally this third release in 2020, following the same design as the 2018 but in gold colour. Edit: Turns out there's since been a fourth release, rose gold-coloured with only 139 bottles released in 2021.

One thing I find really cool about this release is it utilises a bit of a solera system - whereby the whisky (9 refill casks laid down in 1968, then re-racked into a first-fill sherry cask in 2008) was married with some of the 2018 release.

Only 274 bottles were released (at $208,000HKD), so I count myself very fortunate to have tried it...but we all know whisky at this age can be amazing, or it can be "past its best". So which was this? Read on...

Highland Park 50 Year Old (2020 Release) (43.8% ABV, 50yo, 1 of 274 bottles, Orkney, Scotland, $208,000HKD, £22,500)

Colour: Dirty, dark copper.

Nose: Initially, you get that "old whisky" note that often only comes from well-aged whiskies - dunnage warehouse, old leather-bound books, and a hint of earthiness. Thing is, this is simultaneously showing strong, clean sherry notes, with some cola, flamed orange, herbs and fresh cigars. A 10/10 nose - stunning. So far so good!

Palate: Rich and fruity at first (cherries, stone fruit, orange peel) with an oddly satisfying velvety mouthfeel. There's an earthiness, some mustiness (in a good way - think dunnage warehouse again) but no noticeable oak tannins! Certainly no dominating oak anyway. There's a herbal element, some caramel, cola chews and finally sweet oranges.

Long, wit notes of sweet herbal lozenges and some residual oak notes at the very end.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 95/100. Hugely complex, hugely delicious. Whiskies like these may not be cheap, but (considering not every whisky of this age is actually good), it's always satisfying when a whisky this old is this good.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Tasted Post #600...and our actual 10th Anniversary!


A very big thanks (again!) to Kam Daswani of Dram Good Stuff for his generosity sharing this Highland Park.

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