Nose: Toffee, oregano, spearmint, a whiff of sherry, raisins, salty ocean breeze, Earl Grey tea, graham crackers, milk chocolate fudge, s'mores, almonds, gremolata, a bit of smoke, charcoal, hay, toasted oak, and even a smoked salmon note. Incredibly earthy with plenty of sweetness.
Taste: Sweet and tart. Honey, salted caramel, figs, mint, roasted fennel, lemon zest, almonds, cut grass, sea water and sand, pine needles, pepper, campfire smoke, gentle peat. Very oily and mouth-coating.
Finish: Dry, herbal Orkney peat, licorice, tea, bitter herbs, a bit of toffee, cherries in syrup, and mixed nuts. Goes on for forever and a day.
Where do I start? I bought this bottle with the intention of opening it on the day of my engagement to my wonderful now-fiancée. It was a great day and I had been stressing about how my plan would play out. It all worked out well and following the party that night, I realized, "Oh yea, I get to open my Highland Park 30!" Wow did this whisky live up to my expectations.
This whisky, in my opinion, is all about the earth. There are plenty of sweet notes that I expect from a sherry matured whisky, but there are so many earthy notes that not only balance the whisky, but make it very interesting. I find it simply stunning. Of course, a bit of bias probably exists because of how much I built it up in my mind and because of the sentimental value it has, but perception can very well be reality. It's a whisky that I won't forget.