Thank you to a friend (not on reddit) who poured me this sample.
We’ve seen recently that Highland Park was, a few decades ago, playing around with casks. So you have things like Highland Park Fire, which was ex port casks and also Highland Park Full Volume, which was only ex-Bourbon casks.
But the experimentation didn’t end there. Like a jazz group who plays music in a random fashion but with technique behind it, and then ends up going back to their normal jobs because life doesn’t support art unless you’re really lucky, the master distillers filled a mixture of 200 and 250 litre casks at 63.6% and 63.7% to get the full strength.
Note that some whisky is typically put in at lower strengths to bring forward lighter flavours. So we’ve gone from a jazz group (granted not really, because…. Well, this is a pretty normal method done by others, but it helps to stick with the marketing so we’ll do it) to moreso rock or prog. Wait, prog would be closer to the distillation methods of Springbank, this is full strength rock more so.
So after all those years (since 1999) we ended up with Highland Park Full Volume. Sadly not at cask strength, but still an interesting idea. No sherry here, so we’re getting closer to those IB releases that I tend to like that people tend to not talk about as much.
Let’s see how the experiment turned out, shall we?
Price: $127.80 CAD at the LCBO
Abv: 47.2 %
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Malt, banana, cream, grassy
Immediate malt and banana going on. There’s a specific bourbon maker who imparts a good amount of banana, so I wonder if these came from Tennessee. Granted it could be a main flavour in Highland Park that usually is usually in sherry.
That all said, for something that’s “Full Volume”, I was expecting a barrage of flavours. Granted each of these are quite distinct.
Taste: Butter, banana, cherry, black pepper, cherry again
Ah, there’s the barrage, big flavours. Buttery, more banana. Oddly cherry is the big thing here. Nice and fruity, in other words.
Finish: Grassy, banana, butter, caramel, smoke
Grassy and banana. Man, banana is taking the lead here. Feels like 2001 and the Buckwheat Boyz never disbanded.
Nice flavours alongside. Nothing too over the top here, but it’s nice to sip on.
Conclusion: Banana & butter bomb, with cherries on the side. Lots of butter notes throughout that you start to notice once you get past all of the banana.
Beyond that, is it doing much? Not really, but it’s a cool experiment that made something new. Part of me wanted to try it at full strength, and the other part realizes that if it’s like this at 47 ABV, that’s still pretty high. So maybe this didn’t have the result that we all wanted.
So do you buy this? If you love banana in your whisky, then yes. If you like butter, and therefore are alive, yes. If you want something that may not go super complex but does have a lot of cherries and fruity notes, then it’s for you. If you don’t really love the acidity of other Highland Parks, this may also be up your alley.
All in all, if you like banana, buy it. If not, don’t.
Scotch review #1013, Island review #116, Whisky Network review #1589