In October 2020 The Whisky Exchange presented this Highland Park 2003 from a first-fill sherry butt. A European oak cask bottled at a very high ABV: we brace ourselves for an intense sherry bomb.
Highland Park 16 yo 2003 (60,9%, OB for The Whisky Exchange 2019, first-fill sherry butt #1885, 585 btl.)
Nose: very intense. Leather jackets, slightly burnt chocolate cake, miso and treacle. Blackberry liqueur. Coffee sweets. Some brown bread and soy sauce. Just a little earthy peat, but it struggles to get past these deep sherry notes. There’s also a light hint of car workshop / new tyre but it doesn’t bother me in this style. After some airing there’s also a brighter raspberry note.
Mouth: as expected, very dark. Lots of charred notes: wood smoke, burnt bread, sooty notes. Also liquorice and soy sauce, as well as Chinese five spice and wormwood. Tobacco, plenty of caramel and dried herbs. Light meaty notes. It’s only after a while that red fruits come out. Quite a powerhouse. Menthol too.
Finish: long, earthy and herbal, almost like an artisan vermouth with hints of dark chocolate and a dash of cough syrup.
A proper “in your face” sherried whisky, from a modern seasoned cask and feeling almost like a vermouth finish with all the spices. For those who love a challenge. Exclusive to The Whisky Exchange.