Highland Park 21 is currently a “distillery only” release that was originally made for their global travel retail market and quickly gained a following. Made by seasoning ex-bourbon casks with sherry, and then allowing those casks to work their magic for 21 years and makes this whisky tastes similar to some of the older expressions of Highland Park 12 I’ve had. There’s a depth of character in this whisky that puts a smile on my face and makes me think of the early 2000s.
Of course in the early 2000s I was a young 20s whisky sipping whippersnapper who lived in Utah, but I didn’t drink Highland Park because it wasn’t available there so I never had the opportunity to try it back in my youth. However, since then I’ve had many opportunities to try late 90s and early 00s HP12 and it was some damn tasty stuff indeed. If you want a taste of something that harkens back to the “glory days”, without booking a flight to Scotland or trying to pry a bottle of slope shouldered 12 year out of a collector’s hands, your best bet is going to someplace like Master of Malt or Whisky Exchange.
Highland Park 21 Info
Region: Islands, Scotland
Distiller: Highland Park
Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-bourbon seasoned with sherry
Age: 21 years
Highland Park 21 Review
Malt, dark sweets, fruit, citrus peels, oak and some light smoke, spice and cocoa notes. It’s a nice dense aroma.
Sherry, malt, nutty, caramel, brittle, dark fruit, ash, fresh waffles and light a bit of smoke, earth and spice. Like the aroma this is dense and wonderful.
A medium darkly sweet finish layered with notes of wood, sherry, smoke and ash.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Nicely balanced, medium body and a round full feel.
There are a lot of whiskies out there that you’d have to twist my arm to get me to drink, but Highland Park 21 isn’t one of them; tasting it at the event I nearly gave it an A-. For my tastes though I needed a wee bit “more” to knock it up that next level, but there’s no denying that it was damn good. It had a nice old school feeling to it and conjured mental images of older Highland Park releases I’ve had – the ghosts of good drams past.
It had lots of chewy dark fruits, but the smoke was so light I kept wondering if I was imagining it. If that smoky aspect had been bit higher / richer, giving the earthy side of the whisky stronger leverage against the sweetness, it would have easily hit that next level. Still, as is, the Highland Park 21 is a tasty supple whisky that would work perfect as a tasty daily drinker… if you lived near the distillery that is.
SCORE: 87-89/100 (B+, not consumed at home)
Highland Park 21 Review - Score Breakdown
- Nose - 88
- Palate - 88
- Finish - 88
- Balance, Body & Feel - 88
Highland Park 21 years is a great whisky that harkens back to the HPs of old and if you visit the distillery worth splurging to pick up. Though if you don’t want to spring for a plane ticket you could always order it online too!