Single malt whisky - tasting notes

17 May 2009

Highland Park 21 Years

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Highland Park

This Highland Park 21 years old won the 2009 World Whiskies Awards in the category ‘best single malt whisky’.

In terms of flavour profile, this recent addition to the Highland Park range is quite closely related to the Highland Park 30 years old, sharing a slight emphasis on American oak in maturation (less sherry influence to release more of the smokiness). That’s why I’ve tasted them head-to-head, apart from the HP 18 yo and HP 25 yo.

The 21 years old is only available at travel retail. Unfortunately it has been difficult to find outside of the UK.

Highland Park 21 years Highland Park 21 yo (47,5%, OB 2007)

Nose: a bit quiet at first, but it became more expressive after a while. Lots of heather, more than in the 30y. Again quite fruity and sweet, but it has more body and seems to be more complex. More pear and more oak influence, apple pie, floral notes and even some cherry. A bit ‘darker’ or ‘dustier’ as well, with some well-defined notes of bonfire and roasted nuts. Toffee, chocolate and caramel. Some herbs. Lovely nose altogether. Mouth: vivid, spicy attack (ginger, nutmeg). Heather and honey again. Oily. Peat smoke in the distance. Creamy milk chocolate. Very rich. Warmer and less citrussy / gingery than the 30yo. Finish: long continuation of the taste. Starting with a sweet smokiness and getting drier in the end.

It’s a cracking dram, certainly worth looking for. Around € 80.

Score: 91/100

Highland Park 21 Years 4.5 Ruben Luyten 2009-05-17
  • Charlie

    Hmmm, gotta buy and try this “best single malt whisky” …….

  • Ruben

    It will be difficult, I’m afraid. This original version is very hard to find. The new version has a different composition (+ lower alcohol volume) so it may not be as good.

  • Charlie

    Has Highland Park released the 43% (or 40%?) version of the 21 YO?

  • WhiskyNotes

    I haven’t seen it yet, but I guess it should have been released by now. The new version is at 40%.

  • Charlie

    Finally! I have got 2 bottles of this Highland Park 21 YO from friends who are not fans of Highland Park.

  • Marc Castermans

    Finally purchased a bottle. Had my daughter bring it along from Brussels Airport after her trip to Rhodes.

    Can’t wait to taste it.

  • Ruben

    I was at Brussels Airport yesterday and they only have the new 40% version. This may not be as good as the original high-strength version I reviewed here.

  • Kurt

    I was asked by a friend to buy a bottle for the club collection and found 1 at specialized shop @Heathrow. The owner was so raving that I was so upset that he only had 1 left. Lucky for me they had another bottle at the regular duty free so went home with 2 bottles! And after all these amazing comments I couldn’t resist so had to try.

    And boy, have I been looking for this bottling in all the airports since. And finally I have found 3 more bottles. And I know of 9 more bottles somewhere in Europe. All of the original 47.5%!!

  • Whiskyhost

    A friend of mine just purchased the 21yr old at 47.5% from HP’s online store. He shipped it to my folks while I was in Scotland and then I carried it back here (USA) for him. We tasted it yesterday and it was delicious. I don’t know the store’s policy for shipping within Europe.

  • Charlie

    Oh boy, one more award!

  • Charlie

    The 40% Highland Park 21 yr old has been released and is already available at the duty free shop. Any chance to rate this new version? Thank you.

  • Ruben

    I’ve seen it a couple of times as well but I’m not at all tempted to buy it. I don’t think it will be better and I still have a small stack of the higher strength version.

  • Wilf Reedijk

    Yesterday I picked up a bottle of this at a premium spirit event here on on the West Coast of Canada. It is labeled at 47.5%. I’m a bit confused. Have they gone back to cask strength or did I get older stock?

  • Ruben

    I haven’t heard anything of going back to the higher strength – I suppose you’ve gotten older stock.

  • Ruben

    Apparently, yes, old stock at 47,5% has re-appeared. 22 cases are now on sale for the whisky festival in The Hague.

  • Michael

    How expensive is it? They ask C$290 in Ontario, Canada

    No date of release yet.



November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Lindores 2015 festival bottling
  • Amrut 2009 (cask #2701)
  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1930 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.