Hart Brothers - Highland Park 26yr Sherry Finish
One of my all-time favorite whiskies is the Highland Park 18yr. It is delightful. Whenever I bring home a bottle, it doesn't last long!
I have only had the opportunity to taste Highland Park's 25yr once, which I THOROUGHLY enjoyed! It was such a great malt, but at $275/750ml, it hasn't ever come home with me from the shop (there is a local shop with a bottle of HP25, and I drool every time I go!)
However, I was a bit flush when I walked into the Spec's downtown store in Houston, Texas a little while back, and stumbled across this beauty.
Hart Brothers Finest Collection - Highland Park 26yr Sherry Finish, bottled at 46%ABV. To make it even more special, the whisky was put in the cask in 1977, the year I was born, and bottled in 2004, the year my son was born.
This independent bottling was significantly easier on the wallet, and came with a pretty good testimonial by the staff (VERY knowledgable guy). To say it called out to me would be an understatement.
Nose: Definitely HP, definitely sherried, and what a great pairing! All the spice, sea salt, and pepper that you would expect from HP, but with a subtle sweet sherry overtone. Hints of fruit rind, caramel, and honeysuckle. This stuff is GOOD! Melted butter...
Taste: Oh yes, this is Highland Park! The mouth ignites with pepper and saltiness. The sweetness takes a back seat to the salt and pepper spiciness. Orange peel. Not the sweet fruit, but the rind. The difference between the nose and the taste is distinct. The nose is a bowl full of bread pudding, but there is hardly a trace of that in the mouth.
Finish: Long, and delicious. Spice continues to build and the malt coats the mouth. A bit of the fruit comes through on the finish, but mostly it is a long, lingering reminder of the malt on the palate. Spicy, peppery, and salty, long and warm.
While this is a very nice whisky, and definitely worth enjoying, it is not a close facsimile of the HP 25. It is more of a grown up HP 12 or 15. It lacks the sherry influence of the HP 18/25. I think the sweetness really rounds out the salty/peppery character, bringing a lot of balance to the 18/25. This IB reminds me more of the 15yr, which is bolder than the 12 with its spiciness.
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