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Review 6/6 of the samples @Wierdo very kindly sent. This is more than likely Highland Park and it will be my first taste of an IB from that distillery. This is at cask strength and I think is from a single ex-bourbon cask - I may be wrong about that though. Review is neat - more on that later.
Nose - Distinctly HP on first nosing (I’ve never tried Scapa but I’d be surprised if this wasn’t HP) but with more depth than the 12. Twiggy peat (with quite a nip), smoky heather (a cliche, yes, but they are definitely there), touch of tobacco leaf and a little creamy sherry. For sweetness there's honey and pineapple.
Taste - Quite sour at first with the pineapple and then it develops into some lovely smokey notes. A little ginger and peppery spice comes out as well towards the finish.
Finish – Medium at a push with some smoke, sourness and quite dry.
With water there’s more of that familiar sour pineapple and more smoke, oak and yeast(?). This won't take much water at all, something I note with the 12 (at 40% mind) - I was warned but still added too much and pretty much killed my first pour of this.
A very interesting experience this one and I think it shows what Highland Park are capable of producing outside the constraints of OBs. Perhaps not my favourite of the samples @Wierdo sent but I've certainly enjoyed it. I was a touch surprised by its inability to stand up to water being added, which suggests a rather thin distillate. I find that surprising, especially at this strength - not that that in and of of itself it denotes bad whisky. Far from it, this is enjoyable stuff.
It does make me wonder though, a few more years in the cask, a tad more sherry and . . oh hang on ;)