XOP is short for Xtra Old Particular, a series of single cask bottlings by Douglas Laing, containing respectably aged single cask whisky in their natural form and at cask strength. Today I will try a sample that was handed to me by my buddy Carl from Bruges. It’s a 21 years old Highland Park from a refill hogshead. It is nowhere to be found nowadays and I recently saw it being sold at auction for no less than 400 euros. Go figure.
Baby breath, sweet malt, banana on the barbeque - recommended! - apricots and gooseberries, a truckload of vanilla and just a tad of smoke and a wonderful sea breeze. Yes, this HP sports a sweet but very maritime character and is bullseye on the nose.
Oh, boy! This is very old school, mind you. Wonderfully sweet notes of honey, vanilla and yellow fruit (the banana is also present on the palate) but now with a wonderful smoke development, sweet peat and a few drops of brackish water. Perfectly quaffable without water and perfectly balanced. Nicely spicy on white pepper, ginger, liquorice and cinnamon. Very elegant as well. Seems older than its 21 years.
The finish is nicely long and a tad peaty. It remains nicely sweet (barley sugars) and softly seasoned, in which the oak has the final say . It whispers ‘tannins and cardamom’.
Impressively good, spirit-driven Highland Park. Thank you, Carl.