Highland Park 16yo 1986/2002 (57,9%, Adelphi, Refill Hogshead #2288, 273 bottles)

Together with the Cadenheads Glen Scotia I reviewed earlier I found this Adelphi Highland Park in the back of my lectern. Highland Park is no newbie on these pages and this will be the third independent bottling of Highland Park, as I have earlier reviewed Highland Parks from Douglas Laing and a heavily sherried one by Gordon & MacPhail. Adelphi is new to these pages. Adelphi once was a distillery, but it closed already in 1907. The name though was bought and used for this independent bottler since 1993. Funny that the people who are behind Adelphi Distillery now, are building themselves a new distillery not called Adelphi Distillery yet, but for the time being is called: Ardnamurchan. Another claim to fame is that Charles “Rory” MacLean does some if not all of the cask selections.

Color: Dull light gold.

Nose: Creamy, heathery and slightly soapy. Candied yellow fruits. Dried apricots. Very powdery and appetizing. A breath of fresh (sea) air. Very clean smelling, but also has a dirty edge to it. Only a small hint of dry wood and toasted oak. The nose somehow seems sweet, and sweaty, already, and the sweetness blends right in with the cream that’s very up front. It changes with air, so let it breathe. Classy smelling Whisky.

Taste: Smoked heather, honey sweetness and a peppery bite. It keeps it together right through to the finish, it (it being the balance) seems a bit flimsy towards the end, but the balance does manage to stay. A sign of quality. It has a tad of soapy woodiness to it. The sweetness develops from honey into toffee and caramel, but it never dominates. It seems to me the sweetness is somehow balanced with some hidden acidity. Quite nice.

A pretty good, easily recognizable Highland Park. The Heather and honey are definitely there, but the real bonus is the Talisker-like peppery bite. Since there isn’t a lot of bitterness or toast in this, and there seems to be a lot of potential, I wouldn’t have bottled this yet. It’s good, but it could have been slightly better. Of all the independent Highland Parks I have reviewed here, I guess this particular expression matches the profile of Highland Park the best. But do allow for some breathing. It needs air. Well done Rory, I mean Charlie!

Points: 86

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