Not too long ago I reviewed a recent 18yo and quite liked it. I always loved Highland Park, but with issuing so much single cask releases I also noticed a drop in quality for the standard range, especially the 12yo and the 18yo. At one point in time I even scored one batch of 18yo a sad 78 points. Luckily the 18yo I reviewed last was again a lot better so I hope Highland Park is keeping up the good work.
This time I have the Dark Origins in my glass that was released just last year. Like so many others these days it is a NAS offering. Somehow by the looks and the (marketing) statements made with this bottle it looks like an addition to the standard range. Not like Tomatin have done with the Legacy, to place it before the 12yo, and making it quite inexpensive. No, Highland Park let us know that this offering has twice the amount of first fill Sherry cask used in this as compared to the 12yo. A statement that can only be described as behind-the-desk-conjured-fog as we don’t know how many first fill casks go into the 12yo, nor do we know the aged of this Dark Origins. So lets forget about that quickly and have a sip, shall we? By the way This Dark origins is way more expensive than Tomatin’s NAS offering.
Color: Full gold
Nose: Malty and quite funky at first. A hint of smoke and soap, and yes Sherry is in here too. Chocolate and roasted vanilla. Sea spray, buttered toast and a breath of fresh air. Extremely likeable nose.
Taste: Chocolate and prickly oak. Toasted cask and some residual sweetness from red fruit hard candy. Quite smoky and there even is an earthy note, not very different from peat. The nose was quite good but here in the taste department it is all a little bit simpler, yet very well made and quite tasty. Slight acidic off note in the finish, mixed with a soapy texture.
Well this simply is too good to be only young Whisky, but then again, Highland Park always used to be one of the best. It’s a high-class distillate, and very well may be this good when young. Still, I believe there is some older stuff in here. By the way, give it time to breathe. Dark and rich it will be then.