Highland Park 18-Year Scotch 750ml
One of the Scotch world’s all-time favorites, this has to be one of the most consistently excellent malt whiskies of the past 10 years. Showered with awards and praise from all quarters, it was named as ‘Best Spirit in the World’ by F Paul Pacult of the Spirit Journal in 2005. Unfailingly excellent, especially after a good meal.
Pacult wrote: ‘After 25 years’ experience, it fits my profile of what makes a perfect whisky, which is to say it’s totally in harmony, there are no rough edges and everything is melded together brilliantly.’
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The most northerly distillery in Scotland (although Scapa is only a kilometer to the southwest), Highland Park is located on the distant Orkney Islands, off the northeast coast of the Scottish mainland. The distllery’s water comes from Cattymaggie Quarry, which is decidely hard. It’s the peat, though, that makes Highland Park unique. Orcadian peat, sourced locally, is predominately compressed herbacious plants and heather (unlike peat from farther south, which is partially formed with tree matter and/or seaweed). The peat character is mild, however, as only 20% of the mashbill comes from Highland Park’s own floor maltings (and of that, only half is peated). The rest is unpeated malt imported from the Scottish mainland. Another Highland Park eccentricity is the use of predominately (and soon, exclusively) ex-sherry casks, without any finishing. This dance between heavily sherried wood and light Orcadian heather peat is what gives Highland Park its unique qualities. According to the website, all Highland Park whiskies have no coloring additives, although the core expressions are chill-filtered.