The Macphails Collection: Highland Park 8 Year (Scottish Island Single Malt Whisky: 8 years: 40% ABV)

Visual: Clear light straw to gold.

Viscosity: Quite fast streaks of medium thickness.

Nose:  Light peat smoke, vanilla and grain. Alcohol prickles. Beef stew. Slightly marshy.  Cooked onions.

Body: Sweet Dill pickles and gherkins.  Lime. Golden syrup. Banana. Water weakens the front but makes sweeter and adds custard. A broth like back is also added.

Finish:  Charring. Smoke, cigars and a tongue tingling feel.  Custard sweetness with water into malt chocolate and fudge.

Conclusion: Dill pickles and gherkins in a whisky tasting note? Never thought I’d see the day.   Highland Park is a fine spirit and this youthful version comes in with the expected light smoke and sweet touch.  Then you get the aforementioned pickles, which is oddly actually quite cool, giving a tingle instead of a full on alcohol burn.

I find myself preferring this without water. The water does make it smoother and into an absolutely lovely finish, but that manic middle is lost, and it is that quirkiness that I find so fun.  That said, the finish with water is very much welcome, so it is a bottle that’s worth a good experiment with.

Lively and joyous, Highland Park can do no wrong by me it seems.

Background:  Highland Park from Orkney is one of the spirits that seems to be able to pull off many styles well and I have had a grand history with its products so far.  Similarly Gordon and Macphail do a wonderful range of odd whisky’s, closed distilleries and own the Benromach distillery which has found favour with me. All in all I go into this tasting with high hopes.