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- Brand: Highland Queen
- ABV: 40%
Not long ago, my friend and I came across a bottle Highland Queen 16 year old. Not being a proper distillery, we looked it up. One or two reviews popped up, but there wasn’t much information to be found about it. Intrigued, we split the bottle and figured we’d give it a go. It was a cheap buy with a low abv, so expectations weren’t very high. As luck would have it, we were both pleasantly surprised. This stuff is GOOD. I don’t know what distillery this comes from, so I won’t even hazard a guess, although others do seem to have their theories. Here are my notes.
Nose: This is pretty rich given the low abv. Sherry, beautiful baking spices, buttered toast, cream, apple, pineapple, banana, crisp grass, vanilla, and some very nice oak. This is a unexpectedly clean and complex.
Palate: Medium bodied, with spices, fruit, and cream coming on first. Quite sweet, but not overly so. I’m really enjoying these spices, with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a bit of ginger. There’s also fresh grapes and berries, chocolate, caramel, sultanas, and coffee.
Finish: Milk chocolate and caramel (think Rolo) and some very lush fruit notes. Coconut, berry jam, grape, cream, butter, crème brulée, rich oak, woodspice, allspice, cinnamon, gentle anise, burnt toast, smoke, and mocha. Medium in length and very good.
This is MUCH better than I expected it to be. It’s crisp, clean, light, bright, and refreshing. It’s retained its highland-y character, and isn’t dominated by sherry (although the sherry influence is both apparent and brilliant). It’s also retained a youthful freshness despite its age. There are lighter fruity notes as well as the darker sherry ones, and the balance is wonderful. The spices here are beautifully smooth and never hot, but still infuse a bold character into the whisky.
This is a whisky that I think would have a very broad appeal. It works on several levels. Beginners to seasoned connoisseurs would find something to enjoy here. There’s a lot of richness despite the low abv, a lot of complexity despite the low cost, and a lot of character despite the low expectations (given this is a lesser-known brand). Although I’d LOVE to know where this comes from, and I’d LOVE to taste this at a higher abv, this is still a delicious and substantial whisky that checks all the boxes. It just might surprise you. Very recommended.