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Whisky Reviews for Highland Park 40-year-old
28 users have left a review for this whisky and scored it an average of 93.83 points
- Elegant and delicate noses, very watery palate, it's already gone.
- Highland Park 40 year is simply stunning and the finest whisky I’ve sampled during my time writing for The Dramble. The flavour delivery is precise, the balance is perfect, and the development and finish offer almost endless depth and complexity.
Exquisitely rich and expressive, but given the hefty age statement, you’ll not be surprised when I suggest that some substantial resting time (over 30 minutes) is required here. Once fully opened, there’s nothing shy about this nose – wonderful maturity and remarkable aroma development – it’s hauntingly sexy and an experience you’re unlikely to want to end….ever. Pronounced leather, mahogany polish and musty bone dry paper conjure up images of a wood-panelled Victoria library packed to the rafters with ancient leather-bound tomes. The traditional Highland Park profile is still extraordinarily strong here – dried highland grasses, heathery honey and sweet wispy smoke – but everything is richer, deeper and altogether more refined. Orange peels, Peruvian dark chocolate and liquorice merge with luxuriant dark berry fruits, prune juice and dusty aged spices – cinnamon and nutmeg. The level of smoke here is surprising, it’s still a wafting background aroma, packed full of burnt hays, stubbed out cigars and tinder boxes – but it’s much more pronounced that one might expect from 40 years of maturation – this results in a peat that seeming both ancient and refined and yet lively and spry at the same time. Woodiness levels are unsurprisingly high – and yet still somehow restrained – highly polished dark old wood – not a trace of young sappy vanilla and with plenty of beeswax and lacquered furniture. Beautiful, captivating and lingering. I could nose this forever.
Unctuous, slightly oily and with a perfectly judged arrival that delivers a surge of refined flavour with almost no perceptible alcohol despite the 48.3% ABV. Yes, friends, if you’re judging whisky on its ‘smoothness’ this is as smooth as they come. The front palate offers up a stunning balance of mouth-coating burnt sweet heather and cinder toffee, sitting alongside raisins, orange and dried citrus peels. This develops (slowly) into perfectly judged bitterness – from both spices and wood. Cinnamon, nutmeg, a sprinkle of white pepper and then a wave of tanned leather, ancient saddle hides, dusty books, teak oil, mahogany and ebony woods. The development continues into the back palate where sweetness returns to balance the deeper, spicier wood-led flavours – a harvest of juicy, reduced red and black fruit jams and preserves alongside chocolate and burnt honeycomb. Smoke runs throughout, but is most discernible in the back palate – it’s an intriguing and subtle combination of sun-scorched hays, burnt sugars and coastalness. Glorious.
Almost never ending – ever decreasing little lapping waves of chocolate, berries, ancient wood and aromatic spices. It dries superbly without any perceptible tannic influence.
- Everything is sensory in this whisky. A wonderful blend of sweet, spicy, fruity and smoky aromas; embedded in present and reasonably strong alcohol. No one aspect outweighs the others. The word "harmonious" describes this whisky absolutely aptly.
Incredibly intense start. He does not hide for a second. And an amazingly fresh, almost lively start for such an oldie. It starts sweet, orange and cinnamon appear, shortly afterwards strong vanilla and a spice mixture. The oak sounds. For a while you will find aromatic smoked ham and strong plum. A touch of iodine and peppermint chewing gum. If he stays longer in the glass, smoke is clearly present.
There is no time wasted here. Oak, smoke, hams storm on the tongue almost at the same time and the alcohol certainly does not speak up unbridled. After the first attack, orange and dark fruits appear on the palate. The salivation is massive and is supported by a fine, very pleasant bitterness.
Malt, furniture polish and coffee in the very long finish complete the picture perfectly.
- Old IB Highland Park tonight and see how they compare against an OB
Tried a couple of 1959 OB dumpy last night so these IB will interesting.
and possibly one other older OB.
scores are between 89.29 for the 1990 and 93.95 for the 1967 DT, I mention the scores because my scores were lower for the 2 vattings of 1959 I had last night compared to the WB average.
The 67 DT is excellent with great nose and balance but lighter than older OB in the sherry department, I will try this one to compare as they were distilled within a year of each other.
Whoa, although the 40 year OB has the classical sherried profile of aged HP I preferred the DT, even though the points are the same.
1 - 1972 The Bottlers
2 - 1967 John Scotts
3 = HP 40 OB
3 = HP 30 OB
4 - 1974 Signatory
5 - 1990 SV
6 - 1968 DT
The 1972 Bottlers was the clear winner here followed by 67 John Scotts DT, both are very well balanced. Equal 3rd was the OB 40 year and 30 year from 2005 and while the 40 year is more complex I think I preferred the 30 year on enjoyment regardless of the scores. If you consider current auction prices then it is a no contest as the 30 year is much better value for money.
The 74 SV in reality was almost as good and when you consider it was only 16 years when bottled, to get such a good score shows its quality. The 1990 SV surprised me with a very respectable score and bringing up the rear was the 68 DT which was fine but like a whisky not firing on all cylinders and was lacking in all departments compared to the others.
If you see some HP by The Bottlers, do a bottle share, sublime stuff.
- A further tasting I think on reflection 93 points is about right for this.
- I recently did a head to head HP 18, 21, 25 & 30 year but 25 &30 had both the 45.7% and 48.15 versions so 6 drams in all, the 30 year 48.1% won that H2H.
Now I try the 30 year against the 40 year 48.3% and for me on taste alone the 40 year is way out in front, it is more complex, thicker on the palate with basically a perfectly weighted profile in my view.
I am not sure of the casks used but if similar the extra 10 years is telling. I have to say the 30 year is more vibrant, more fireworks on the palate its just the overall package of the 40 that wins by some distance. Now if you bring price into it, the gap narrows considerably.
- When this came out I refused to pay £475 for a bottle of this, (the guy won it in a raffle) I offered the guy £450 and stuck to my guns, what a fool I was. I have regretted that specific whisky decision to this day.
This is a beautiful whisky, not worth the money it goes for now obviously but the balance is spot on.
I need to try the 30 year 48.1% original now to compare.
Whisky in general does not come much better than this, sure I am an old HP fan and biased but you cannot ignore the quality here.
- A truly lovely whisky.
I would say that is classic Highland Park, sherry, wood, dark fruits a little heather all mixing beautifully.
Dark fruit jams, rich sherry, hints of peat, but there is also something quite sweet like peaches in syrup but not as sweet as that, There is also some Italian cooked meat in the mix, balsamic (the heavy syrupy kind)
The initial attack is just about perfect but then there is some initial dryness mixed in with wood spices.
The fruit grows on mango but mainly plum, it of the stewed kind so some of the sweetness is removed and there are plenty of juicy raisins in the mix but creeping in is some orange chocolate which adds a layer of complexity.
The peat is there and it is quite powerful mixed with a very nice mulled wine and ginger spice.
Long, warming, and just some slight woody bitterness creeping in at the end and finally the orange hints.
- Tasted it at a Highland Park VIP tasting at Whisky-Live in Spa (Belgium), February 4th 2018.