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: Longmorn 1992 SMWS 7.180 (25-year-old, "Untold stories")

Color: Amber

Nose: Started off with biting aromas so I gave it a good 20 minutes to breath. Upon coming back to it, it was a lot calmer but still relatively spicy with chilli and cinnamon. Hints of fresh fruits, green apples. There is vanilla too, but it remains in the background. Water brings the vanilla out more strongly. There is more sweetness alongside the tamed spices now, reminiscent of gingerbread. After another ten minutes, it got rounder still, with more wooden aromas, hints of tobacco and sweet honey melon.

Taste: First sip and I like it better on the palate already, although the mouth feel is thin. There is lots of wood, some vanilla. Spices come through still, especially pepper and chilli. The addition of water cannot quite make those spices disappear, but they're brought down somewhat. It's fruitier now and slightly creamy... dark chocolate with cherry and pepper.

Finish: Long with wood, tobacco and bitter dark chocolate.

Comments: Complex Speyside whisky from the "Old & dignified" category at SMWS. It benefits from both water and time. In fact, it changes quite a bit every ten minutes or so. If it wasn't for the spices that are a bit too dominant for my taste, this could have been a superb dram in my book.

Rating: I rated this whisky 85 out of 100.
(Nose 22, Taste 22, Finish 21, Balance 20)

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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: Highland Park 2002 SMWS 4.235 (14-year-old, "Beach bonfire embers")

Highland Park 2002 SMWS 4.235 Beach bonfire embersColor: White wine

Nose: Lemon slices with a very light touch of smoke. Above that lingers a floral note with vanilla and a salty breeze you might associate with an autumn walk on the beach.

Taste: Salty liquorice with soft smoke. Thin mouth feel. Water improves the balance by introducing green tea, but the peat remains subdued.

Finish: Getting dry quickly. You get more peat now, but it's still only "lightly peated" as suggested by the categorization over at SMWS.

Comments: Solid whisky that does nothing wrong but doesn't really stand out either. Don't overthink it, enjoy it at the beach.

Rating: I rated this whisky 82 out of 100.
(Nose 21, Taste 21, Finish 20, Balance 20)

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