Tag Archives: Highland Park Distillery

Highland Park ‘Rebus 30’ 10-year-old

Bought: Highland Park Shop, 6th July 2017

Ratings:
84.29/100 – Whiskybase (average from 23 member votes)

The ‘Rebus 30’ 10yo by Highland Park’s own admission is the standard 10yo in a different bottle. Their excuse is that the new 10yo (named ‘Viking Scars’) isn’t available in the UK market so the ‘Rebus 30’ is an opportunity for Brits to try it. The 10yo scores 82.8/100 on Whiskybase from 9 member votes, nearly 1.5 points less than the Rebus 30. It goes to show that by releasing a ‘limited edition’ in different packaging and adding a story can influence opinion. Although we’ve all known that for year. I’ve certainly fallen for it!

When John Rankin, author of Inspector Rebus, got in touch with Highland Park in 2007 and asked about a commemorative bottle to mark 20 years of his character this resulted in a unique 20yo single malt limited to 150 bottles. These now sell for up to £2,000 at auction and £3,000 retail. In a way it’s a shame that after 30 years of Rebus all we get from Highland Park are 10,000 bottles of their bog standard 10yo. The look of the bottle is nice but it doesn’t come in a box. I suppose for £30 and £5.99 postage we mustn’t grumble. It has an age statement on it after all, unlike the new Highland Park ‘Dragon Legend’ selling at Tesco supermarkets for £40.

Tasting notes by Martin Markvardsen, senior brand ambassador at Highland Park:

Nose: Lightly fruity, hints of vanilla, citrus, fresh green apple
Taste: Citrus, fresh fruits, cream of vanilla, peppery spiciness, touch of smoke
Finish: Very long with continuing spice along with honey peatiness.

Here’s Rob of ‘Whisky In The 6’ with his review of the Highland Park 10yo, which is exactly the same as the Rebus 30 (Jan 2017):

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Highland Park 15-year-old

Bought: Highland Park Shop, 14th July 2015

Ratings:
85/100 – Whisky Bible 2015
83.02/100 – Whiskybase (average from 164 member votes)

Back in about 2000 when I got my first bottle of HP 15yo it was exclusive to Sainsbury’s supermarket (according to a member of Whiskybase). 15 years later and it’s equally difficult to acquire in the UK. You have to go direct to the Highland Park shop on the distillery’s website. The bottle is readily available elsewhere in Europe (see the Whiskybase link for details) where it’s around £45 as opposed to the £65 price tag in the UK.

85/100 in the Whisky Bible classifies this dram as “good to excellent whisky definitely worth buying” but the author, Jim Murray, is hardly complimentary in his brief review “had to re-taste this several times, surprised as I was by just how relatively flat this was. A hill of honey forms the early delivery, but then….”

83/100 on Whiskybase is a reasonable score, beating other HP offerings such as the Leif Eriksson, Einar, Harald, Drakkar and the HP12, although expert reviewer Mark Dermul says about the HP 15yo “this is a bit of a weird HP if you ask me. The 12 Year Old easily transcends this one.” Other voter remarks about the HP 15yo include “an unusual HP but I like it”, “a decent and interesting dram” and “a trademark Highland Park dram and lovely at that.” It’s definitely worth a try and I’ll be interested to see how it compares with my old bottle of HP 15yo.

Highland Park 15yo 70cl 5cl

Highland Park 25-year-old

Bought – Highland Park Distillery, 14th August 2014

Ratings:
96/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
87/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 18 reviews)

Now here’s a mystery. The ratings I mention above are for the original bottling of the HP 25yo at 48.1%, and miniatures of this are still available on the Highland Park website. But a full 70cl bottle on their website, and other online whisky shops, is 45.7%! Clearly it’s a different whisky. But the Highland Park website use exactly the same description for both versions of the HP 25yo. I don’t have my finger on the pulse of what’s happening at the distillery but it seems like there’s a new version of the 70cl on the market. The miniatures I have are the old version, which has been discontinued. The fantastic ratings are for the OLD version, so I can only hope the new version keeps the high standards. At £175 for 70cl, you’d have to hope so!

The miniatures of this discontinued 25yo are still available on the HP website for £12. At 5cl they are one 14th of 70cl, so 14 x £12 is £168 (if it’s even possible to still buy 14 miniatures). I don’t know how much the old 70cl was being sold for but I doubt it was much less than £175 (that’s the cheapest I found online. Highland Park are selling it on their website for £250). It’s rare to find a miniature that costs less than 1/14th of its 70cl counterpart. If you’re a collector of miniatures then this is definitely something to add to your collection. I spotted one selling at auction for £15.50, so £3,50 more than buying it directly from Highland Park. It goes to show, it’s already making money as an investment, even at 5cl in size!

Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his review on You Tube (March 2016):

Highland Park 25yo 5cl

Highland Park 21-year-old

Bought – Highland Park Distillery, 14th August 2014

Ratings:
82.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
89/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 9 reviews)

When you look at the Whisky Bible rating of 82.5/100 you’d be forgive for thinking this was a good whisky yet nothing special. But the Malt Maniacs score this 21yo 89/100 and they only gave the HP 18yo 88/100, when the Whisky Bible scores it an amazing 95.5/100! Here we have the wonderful world of opinions. Stick 3 whisky drinkers in a room with one bottle to try and you’ll get at least 4 opinions. And if they try the bottle again after a week of letting it breath, opinions will change – some for the better, some for the worse.

In fairness, the rating for this HP 21yo is a little more clear-cut. Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible score of 82.5/100 would have been higher if it weren’t for his sulphur sensitivity. As he says “bad news: a sulphured sherry butt has found its way into this bottling”. When I think how rare it is to see reviews mentioning sulphur, I’m beginning to wonder if Jim Murray’s taste buds no longer reflect those of your typical whisky drinker. After relying on the Whisky Bible for so long, I may start changing my source for reviews to such places like Whiskybase and Malt Maniacs, where ratings are an average from numerous voters, not just a single opinion.

Here’s ‘Malt Reviews’ on You Tube with their thoughts (August 2015):

Highland Park 21yo 5cl

Highland Park 18-year-old

Bought – Highland Park Distillery, 14th August 2014

Ratings:
95.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
91/100 – Ralfy, of http://www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Highland Park 18yo – YouTube (May 2012)

It’s been proving harder and harder to find miniatures of the HP (Highland Park) age-statement range, so a few months ago I decided to go to the source and look on the Highland Park website and their online shop. The 30yo was available, then a few days later (when I was about to place an order!) it had sold out. I contacted HP directly and they confirmed they no longer had any miniatures of the 30yo. They also said, and I quote “we are discontinuing all of our miniature range excluding the 12 year old.” (email received 9th June 2014). Eeek! Time to place an order, so I got the 18yo, 21yo and 25yo.

The HP 18yo is one of the true heavy-weights of the whisky world. I’ve never seen a bad word said against it. It gets one of Ralfy’s highest scores in nearly 500 reviews, and Jim Murray in his Bible says of the taste “eye closing beauty” and goes on to say “this is a must have dram”. It’s just a shame a full 70cl bottle is so expensive (currently about £90) when other great 18-year-olds like the Talisker are £25-£30 less. At least with a miniature I can experience that “must have dram” Mr Murray insists that I have. Don’t mind if I do Jim, old chap! It’s a shame it’s not his round, or I’d have it in a pint glass! 🙂

Highland Park 18yo 5cl