This Highland Park 1998 is the first release in the Orkney Sponge series from Decadent Drinks. It’s a mash up of their Whisky Sponge and Old Orkney brands.
Highland Park 23 yo 1998 (57%, Orkney Sponge 2022, refill hogshead, 277 btl.)
Nose: a fairly naked, old-style Orkney profile. A mix of oily notes, dried herbs, fresh lime tea and sea spray up front. There’s more peat than you’d expect. Light candlewax. Then sea salt crisps, hints of shortbread and mint leaves. Tiny hints of celeriac, heather flowers and breads in the background. Fresh, natural and untainted by the cask.
Mouth: really nice. The waxy side got bigger now – a great mix of lanolin and candles. Still these (gentle) peaty and lovely coastal notes, with a Fino-ish hint of sea salt and seaweed. Then some citrus, pine needles, wholegrain bread, barley water and mixed dried herbs. In the end also walnuts and whiffs of aspirin.
Finish: long and firm, with more citrusy freshness, salt and wee herbal notes.
This is a beautifully outdated Highland Park, with waxy notes that take us back to the 1970s distillate style. Pin sharp at times, always natural with good complexity. Overall a very solid whisky. Still available from Decadent Drinks or The Whisky Exchange for instance.