Signatory 35th anniversary: Highland Park, Blair Athol

Signatory 35th anniversary: Highland Park, Blair Athol

We have another look at some of Signatory Vintage‘s 35th anniversary bottlings. After the really good Glenturret, Mortlach and Laphroaig, we’re now looking at the Blair Athol 1988 and Highland Park 1991. Both matured in sherry butts, but with a significantly different colour.

 

Highland Park 1991 (53,4%, Signatory Vintage ’35th Anniversary’ 2023, first fill Oloroso sherry butt #15088, 557 btl.)

Nose: it’s one of these matchstick-heavy Highland Parks, much like its 30th anniversary sister in fact. Walnuts and tobacco leaves, with mossy notes, light smoke and a wee hint of rubber.  Then old leather and buttered toast. Chocolate and mushrooms with more than a hint of rancio (Maury style).

Mouth: very umami again, starting on hints of wet soil, gunpowder, some meaty touches and roasted vegetals. Then back to cigars and walnuts, with a hint of coffee and black peppercorns. Light herbal bitterness. Salted chocolate appears in the end.

Finish: more roasted nuts, cocoa and a sharp mustardy edge.

A good example of this style, with matchstick notes that aren’t totally disturbing. That said, I’m sure the score would increase if it were a little less umami. I’m missing some fruitier sherry notes to give a higher score.

 

 

Blair Athol 1988 (55,9%, Signatory Vintage ’35th Anniversary’ 2023, Oloroso sherry butt #6790, 450 btl.)

Blair Athol 1988 - Signatory Vintage 35th Anniversary Nose: despite the browner, darker colour, this seems a little fresher. Chestnut purée and apple pie, but also nice apricot jam. Then damp earth, hints of raisins and whiffs of wood polish. Leafy notes and old leather. It shares some elements with the Highland Park but it’s sweeter and cleaner – you do get a sense of proper Oloroso here.

Mouth: even nicer. Blueberries, orange peels, as well as leather and Christmas spice. Pepper, cinnamon and ginger. Baked apple in the background, even hints of mango jam and tangerine. Then tobacco and cocoa take over.

Finish: quite long, with herbal tea and grassy notes, hints of dried fruit and old wood spice.

This one started with a weighty nose, but it folds open in the mouth. Entertaining and densely sherried, and it tolerates a few drops of water. This one wins this short session. Score: 90/100

  
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