Tasting note: Highland Park 17-year-old, "The Dark"

Highland Park "The Dark" 17-year-oldColor: Russetmuscat

Nose: Soft peat, salt and sweet dried fruits alongside a strong ginger spiciness and wooden notes. Hints of citrus. Water tames the spiciness by bringing out notes of vanilla and cherry.

Taste: Creamy mouth feel with salty liquorice, malt and lots of dried fruits. Nice. I like it better with a few drops of water though as it gets even creamier and slightly less salty.

Finish: Long. Sweet, then quite peppery. Later, dry oak and bitterness.

Comments: Very fine whisky by Highland Park. Calling it a "limited bottling" when there are 28,000 bottles is bad marketing and the price is too high, in my opinion, but that shouldn't dilute the fact that "The Dark" is a yummy dram. Liked it quite a bit.

Rating: I rated this whisky 89 out of 100.
(Nose 23, Taste 23, Finish 22, Balance 21)

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Tasting note: Glenfarclas 21-year-old

Glenfarclas 21-year-oldColor: Deep copper

Nose: Fresh fruits with green apples, oranges and, somewhat sweeter, ripe pineapples. The nose also has a minty freshness to it, but it's well-balanced alongside hints of sugary cinnamon spices.

Taste: This is where the whisky's sherried character becomes apparent. Dried fruits with orange peel, vanilla and toffee. Again, hints of mint. You can tell this is a mature whisky as it got quite a bit of cask influence (hints of oak) even though it was not bottled at cask strength.

Finish: Long with oak and a slightly bitter ginger spiciness.

Comments: Wonderfully crafted and well-balanced whisky that only improves if given enough time to breath. Not as much cask influence or as sherried as the 25-year-old, but its light sherry character works nicely alongside the fresh fruity notes this dram has to offer. The fact that it is very fairly priced makes it all the more appealing, especially for those who would not otherwise be able to afford a 21-year-old single malt whisky.

Rating: I rated this whisky 89 out of 100.
(Nose 23, Taste 22, Finish 22, Balance 22)

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Tasting note: Glenglassaugh Pedro Ximénez Sherry Wood Finish

Glenglassaugh Pedro Ximinéz Sherry Wood FinishColor: Chestnutoloroso sherry

Nose: Strong on sweet dried fruits, raisins, with hints of cherry and an orangey freshness. Hazelnuts.

Taste: Light and sweet with vanilla and cherries.

Finish: Medium. Caramel at first, then dry with wood and lots of hazelnuts in the end.

Comments: I like the nose and the hazelnut finish, but the body is rather weak. NAS whisky without complexity, which is fine given its current retail price of roughly EUR 45.

Rating: I rated this whisky 81 out of 100.
(Nose 21, Taste 19, Finish 21, Balance 20)

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Tasting note: Glen Elgin 1991 IM (24-year-old, Dun Bheagan)

Glen Elgin 1991 IM (24yo, Dun Bheagan)Color: Tawny

Nose: The sherry comes out strong and with it the typical aroma of dried fruits. A lot of sweetness, I'm thinking of apples and prunes that have been lying on the ground for awhile. Mellow oak lingers in the background. (With water: Hints of freshly cut oranges.)

Taste: Spicy at first, you can tell this was bottled at cask strength. Not too strong though as it's oily and velvety in the mouth. Many fruity notes again, notably sweet strawberries. It has something creamy... strawberry and vanilla milkshake? (Having rested in the glass a little longer, with water: Definitely oranges now. Strikes a nice balance with the soft taste of oak.)

Finish: Best described as long-lasting sweetness. More oak later as the mouth gets dry.

Comments: Fine example of a sherried cask strength whisky. It might seem heavy on the sweet side at first, but it certainly gains from letting it rest in the glass for some minutes. The careful addition of water tamed the prominent sweetness and brought pleasant citrus notes to light.

Rating: I rated this whisky 89 out of 100.
(Nose 22, Taste 22, Finish 23, Balance 22)

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Tasting note: Aberlour A'bunadh (Batch 55)

Aberlour A'bunadh Batch 55Color: Burnt umber

Nose: Strong sherry with dried fruits (raisins) and a peppery spiciness on top of the sweetness. Cinnamon and oranges.

Taste: The sweetness dominates at first, dark fruits (ripe cherries) with dark chocolate. Creamy in the mouth. Then hints of wood and a burning spiciness coming, perhaps, from the 60.9% alcohol content. Still pleasant and well-rounded though, even without water.

Finish: Medium length finish, still mostly sweet. The spicy notes dissipate quickly, leaving a pleasant dry sherry taste mixed with oak.

Comments: Dark and strong whisky. Sherry bomb with a punch and very fairly priced at EUR 50-60 as of this writing.

P.S.: After adding a drop or two of water, the A'bunadh became even more creamy for me, mostly on stronger caramel and fruity cherry aromas.

Rating: I rated this whisky 88 out of 100.
(Nose 23, Taste 23, Finish 21, Balance 21)

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