Highland Park 1989 cask #11848 (First Cask)

Highland Park 1989 cask #11848 (First Cask)

Direct Wines was one of the earliest (and largest) mail-order wine merchants. Founded in 1969 by Tony Laithwaite, they sometimes also had whisky on offer. Direct Wines bottled this Highland Park 1989 as part of their own First Cask range.

I discovered it as a Cheaper by the Dram sample, the business set up by Mark Littler, providing 3cl samples of old collectible bottles.


Highland Park 18 yo 1989 (46%, Direct Wines ‘First Cask’ 2007, sherry butt #11848 btl.)

Nose: typical honeyed notes with hay, a light waxiness of paraffin, as well as faint coastal notes like wet pebblestones. Cut apples, buttercups, heather and mossy notes. Then a buttery side as well, leading to subtle vanilla biscuits. Very mild sherry. Totally balanced and classic.

Mouth: rather assertive considering the modest ABV. A mix of lime, fructose sweetness and sharper pine resin. Then mint leaves, green leafy notes and coastal peat. Mid-palate a grassy side grows stronger, bringing along some grapefruit bitterness. Herbal tea and plenty of mineral notes, with a pinch of white pepper.

Finish: medium length, slightly sharp, on herbal notes, green tea and lemon peels.

Although the nose was very balanced, it becomes rather restless on the palate, with a green, bitter and herbal side. I’m guessing this was a pretty affordable Highland Park back then, always nice to see how they hold up after all these years. Quite well, actually. Now long gone, but Mark is selling an impressive series of other First Cask releases.