This new release is part of diptych that celebrates the seasons on the Isle of Orkney, home of the Highland Park distillery. The Dark focuses on autumn and winter, while The Light 17 Years will symbolise spring and summer. We can expect the other one early 2018.
Highland Park The Dark 17 Years is matured in European oak sherry-seasoned casks.
Highland Park The Dark 17 yo (52,9%, OB 2017, 28.000 btl.)
Nose: a slightly subdued nose. There are sweet blackberries and fig pastry but mainly oak spices. Cinnamon sticks, ginger and roasted (chest)nuts. Soft hints of metal polish.
Mouth: again a fairly spice-driven EU oak sherry profile. Roasted nuts and coffee beans, dark malt, including a light bitter edge of Seville oranges. Then strong herbal tea, juniper and clove. Cinnamon cake. Some heathery smoke towards the end.
Finish: long, fairly dry, with smoky notes, herbs and a bittersweet dark chocolate edge.
A fairly dry and spicy expression, perhaps more influenced by the type of wood than by the sherry itself. I started with a lower score but it really grew on me. A bit expensive for what it is, I think, but I admit it looks great. Available from Master of Malt and The Whisky Exchange.