Distiller: Highland Park. ABV 40%. No age statement. Region: Islands. Price: $90-100.
Highland Park’s a first-rate distiller, Scotland’s northernmost, and one of just two distilleries on the Orkney Islands. Their 12-year-old is an excellent introduction to single malt for the uninitiated, and 18-year-old is the nectar of the gods.
Then there’s the Harald. This Duty Free-only release from their Warrior Series struck me as thin, raw, underpowered, and muddled. There are hints of familiar Highland Park flavors–baked apple, baking spice, and light peat–but they’re barely detectable at such a low ABV (40%). Which, at this price point, I find a bit baffling.
It’s the mixed blessing of the no-age-statement trend. You get home runs like the Aberlour A’Bunadh, then dribblers that go foul of the third base line.
When it comes to HIghland Park, at least, I’ll be sticking to the standard age-statement releases. – BO