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Highland Park

Highland Park 15 Year Old

€92.32 $99.75 £79.95

Honey

Treacle, toffee, caramel, heather

The sweetness of honey is one of the most common flavours in Scotch whisky…particularly in younger examples of the popular Speyside style that forms the basis of many of the most popular blends, but also in the Highlands and, perhaps most characteristically, the Lowlands. The Island whiskies, too, often express a honey-like sweetness in their lighter forms. This is usually the result of the natural sugars present in malted barley, and so is generally more apparent in younger whiskies (up to 15-18 years of age) before too much of heftier flavours like wood, spice or dried fruit are imparted from the cask.

A richer, toffee-like sweetness often derives from European oak casks (generally ex-sherry), while American oak (ex-bourbon or newer sherry casks) produces a lighter, vanilla-tinged flavour that complements the natural sugars of the barley. The marshmallow-like sweetness of bourbon often translates into a lighter honey-like flavour in Scotch matured in ex-bourbon casks.

Good examples of single malts that carry strong flavours of honey are the classic Glenlivet and its many Speyside brethren; the lightness and softness of Lowlanders Glenkinchie and Auchentoshan; and the heathery sweetness of younger Highland Parks or some Highlanders like Dalwhinnie or Glen Garioch. In addition, virtually all of the biggest names in blended whisky are marked by this kind of flavour - the house styles of Johnnie Walker, J&B and Chivas Regal all depend on that sweet, youthful Speyside core. All of them are likely to go well with lighter cigars, particularly those with sweet flavours of their own, such as Hoyo de Monterrey.

 

Dried Fruit

Raisins, figs, fruitcake, red grape, candied fruit

While flavours of fresh fruits such as apple, citrus or berries may be the result of ex-bourbon cask maturation, dried fruit flavours in single malt are almost exclusively due to extensive sherry-cask influence. Sherry casks, especially those made from European Oak (very much the minority today) lend whisky bold and robust flavours: the high acidity and lower alcohol content of sherry (in comparison to bourbon) bring out more of the flavour from the wood, giving the whisky notes of rich dried fruit and spice. In addition, the fact that sherry casks are generally larger than bourbon barrels (250 - 300 litres for a Hogshead or 500 litres for a butt, in comparison to 200 litres for a barrel) means that there is a slower maturation process: the more time the alcohol has to break down the flavour compounds present in the wood, the more oxygen becomes available to react with the spirit via oxidation; this results in more complex flavours including tobacco, spice, and a rich but sweet fig-like flavour. Raisins and fruit cake are common tasting notes, but younger (and therefore sweeter) whiskies may also present red grape, candied papaya or dried banana chips.

Due to their association with sherry casks, dried fruit flavours are most common in Speyside whiskies which make extensive use of this cask type. Many distilleries in this region have made sherry cask maturation their trademark: most notably Macallan, but also Aberlour, Glenfarclas and cult favourites Glendronach and Longmorn. The scarcity of sherry casks and legendary status of the aforementioned malts has driven up the price tag of this style, but those in the know keep close tags on where to find the best “sherry bomb” deals.

The dry, rich characteristic of this set of flavours means it pairs well with the toasty flavours present in some styles of cigar: Macallan and Cohiba, considering the prestige of each brand, are a natural couple, but dried fruit sherry bombs are also likely to pair well with the likes of Ramon Allones or Trinidad, and the leathery tang of a Montecristo is another good companion.

 

Peat

Smoke, barbecue, medicine, farmyard aromas

By far the most polarising of all whisky flavours - and in some ways, that most distinctive of Scotch whisky. Peat is a type of fossil fuel, halfway between soil and coal, which produces a very aromatic smoke as it burns, and is widespread in the Scottish Highlands and islands. It has long been used to dry out malted barley in preparation for making whisky…and the aroma of the smoke lingers throughout the whole distillation process and the subsequent years of maturation.

The resulting flavour is often described as “medicinal” - associated with disinfectants such as TCP, especially by its detractors. Those who enjoy the flavour may be more likely to compare it to the scent of a barbecue, or a welcoming fireplace on a cold winter night.

Peat is almost universally associated with the Islay region - although some Islay whiskies have no peat, while many non-Islay whiskies do. As the flavour derives from the malted barley rather than the cask, it is generally more upfront in younger whiskies than in older expressions, where the cask has had more time to influence the overall style - this is why most Islay whiskies, renowned for their peaty flavours, are bottled at 10 or 12 years with relatively little spirit kept for older ages (Lagavulin is a notable exception). The most notorious of peaty whiskies is probably Laphroaig, while the crown of the “world’s peatiest whisky” is held by Bruichladdich’s Octomore series. At the other end of the scale, those flavours produced by relatively light peating levels are described by the earth flavour tag.

Because of the distinctiveness and the sheer intensity of peaty flavours, they can be difficult to pair with cigars: generally, the fuller-flavoured the cigar, the more likely it is to complement an intensely peaty whisky. In this sense, Bolivar, Partagas and certain Cohibas are safe choices. You may like to experiment a little more and try other cigars that are marked by flavours of leather, pepper or toast, however.

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Highland Park 15 Year Old Single Island Malt Scotch Whisky 

A re-release of the 15 Year Old single malt from Highland Park Distillery on...read more

Product Info

Highland Park 15 Year Old Single Island Malt Scotch Whisky 

A re-release of the 15 Year Old single malt from Highland Park Distillery on Orkney. A smooth, easy to drink single malt, with a luxuriously light floral flavour and a gentle smoky finish.

70cl, 40% volume.

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