Highland Park 21 Year Old built quite a reputation after being launched as a travel retail expression in 2007 (47.5% ABV). It was superb and affordable, see my review. However it was really limited and sold out quickly. It was re-introduced in 2009 at a far less impressive 40% ABV and then faded out.
In 2019 Highland Park released a new version of the 21 Year Old at 46%. It now comes in batches – we’re trying the August 2019 release but there’s also a November 2019 edition.
It is created from 15 casks laid down in 1998 and earlier years: first-fill sherry seasoned casks (6x European oak and 4x American oak) as well as 5 refill casks.
Highland Park 21 yo (46%, OB August 2019)
Nose: mature and fairly gentle, with some mentholated notes and heathery peat in the foreground. Lots of oranges, with orange peel and pear and a fresh hint of lemon. Candied ginger. Subtle coastal notes and hints of pipe tobacco.
Mouth: spicy and sharper now. The oranges have a hint of bitterness, mixed with clove and nutmeg. A little cedar wood. A pinch of salt and herbal tea, as well as a kind of metallic edge. Just a little vanilla in the background, but I’m missing a fruity element here.
Finish: quite long, still on the herbal side, with a little wood, lemon peel and dark brewed tea.
A good Highland Park with a nice mature balance and a good dose of sherry influence. It’s just the slightly sharp and bitter profile on the palate that keeps me from scoring it higher. Available from Master of Malt or The Whisky Exchange.