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Archive for the ‘Highland Park’ Category

Introduction

A pour of HP 'Earl magnus'

Cool people might drink whisky, but drinking whisky does not make you cool. If you want to see what the cool kids think of HP Earl Magnus, check out WhiskyFun.com or WHISKYhost.com and get their take on this new special release from Highland Park. In this blog post, I will share my initial impressions of this 15 year, 52.6% special release, then I’m going to hit you with more pictures and packaging details than most self-respecting whisky drinkers would care to see. Basically, it’s a post for [geeks] whisky fanatics like me. This isn’t a full “review”, as I like to spend several tasting sessions establishing my thoughts on profile, and evaluating overall satisfaction level. For more background on the Earl Magnus release, check out this previous blog post.

Opening the bottle in true geek fashion

Having decided to go ahead and open my bottle of Magnus alone, rather than wait for a get-together with fellow whisky drinkers, I still wanted to spice up the experience. I mean come on, the packaging for this thing is SO Glen Wonka, it almost makes you feel guilty to be a drinker rather than a collector.

Ever since I saw the beautiful box that Earl Magnus is packaged in (pictures below), I had visions of the monolith and accompanying music at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey [I know, the Glenmorangie Signet box is the one that actually looks like a monolith]. So it seemed appropriate to play Also sprach Zarathustra (Richard Strauss) in the background while I unlatched the box, took out the bottle, removed the wax seal and popped the cork. Here, try it for yourself and see what you think:

Tasting Notes

Highland Park Earl Magnus Edition One;  15 Years; 52.6%

This expression is matured primarily in American Oak sherry casks, with a few Spanish sherry casks thrown in to create the right amount of sweetness (from HP via Twitter).

Nose: Take the honey from the standard 12 year and dial it up. Now take the 15 year profile and dial the citrus way down. Add a very rich, creme brule vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon and you have the HP Earl Magnus nose. Contrary to Gerry Tosh’s comments in this video, I don’t find that the high alcohol volume ratcheted up the smoke. There’s a soft peat smoke, but it isn’t nearly as smoky as the high proof older expressions (21, 25 and 30 year).
Palate: Ahh…there’s the citrus from the standard 15 year. A very juicy palate, but where is all of that alcohol? It doesn’t burn the tongue at all.
Finish: Pow! Here’s the big pay-off for Earl Magnus. Right as you swallow, your whole tongue starts drying, and it’s enhanced by a wonderful peppery spice. Citrus and smoke fumes fill the mouth cavity and loft up into the nostrils. It lasts for a pretty long time. I think the alcohol volume is just right. It’s a party in the mouth, but stops short of burning.

Comments: Well, I suppose I DID build it up a bit much, what with taking a ton of pictures and opening the bottle to music. However, it came pretty close to living up to such over-hype. I’m very satisfied with this whisky so far, and the combined taste and presentation make the $120 (shipped) I paid seem very reasonable. It fits very nicely between the standard 18 and 21 year bottlings in value. I look forward to spending more time with this bottle, but right now, I’d say it’s right on the B+/A- border in my scoring system (see the side bar).

Comparisons

I did do some brief comparisons with the standard 12, 15, 18, and 21 year, as well as a Scott’s Selection 25 year. It was interesting how, when nosed side-by-side, all of the other expressions seemed slightly farmy relative to the Magnus. It was in these comparisons that the honey and vanilla became even richer (reminiscent of The Balvenie Madeira Cask), and the sprinkle of cinnamon came through in the Earl Magnus. The Smoke on the 21 year and Scott’s 25 year was much more obvious, both on the nose and the finish.

Having worked my way through most of my standard HP 15 year 43% bottle, and doing this comparison, I’ve come to the inclusion that my original rating of 88 for the standard bottling was a point too high. There’s definitely a bit more separation between that one and the 18 and older expressions, as well as this Magnus special edition.

Pictures and Packaging Details (with info about the this release)

Click on any of the pictures to see them full sized.

  • The old-fashioned bottle making process results in an imperfect stance.

Leaning tower of Magnus

  • Left side of the box, with brass hinges and info about the bottling:

Magnus Box Left

The Highland Park archive is home to many venerable bottles; one in particular, dating from around 1870, fits perfectly as an inspiration for celebrating the life of Earl Magnus. We worked with Stolzle Flaconnage, Highland Park’s specialist glassware supplier, to ignore 150 years of technological advances in order to create a bottle complete with flaws and defects consistent with those of the original.

In 1870 the bottle would have been hand-gathered, mouth-blown into a wooden mould and kept wet to prevent combustion. The raw materials would have been sand and limestone along with naturally occurring sodium sulphate. Contaminants broadly determined the colour of the glass and a little effort would have been made to control capacity or functionality so long as it did not break.

This modern bottle matches the original in almost all regards other than that it is made in a factory, doesn’t leak, and conforms to all applicable legislation. The modern moulds echo the flaws in the hand-made one from two centuries ago; advanced techniques were used to generate bubbles and colour consistency in the glass. The artisans of 1870 would be most impressed with our efforts made in search of imperfection.

The image of Earl Magnus on the original label of the 1870 archive bottle was inspired by an ancient stained glass window. The impact of the label is shown to maximum effect by the development of this simple, open fronted and etched wooden box.

Highland Park Earl Magnus Edition One is a perfectly-balanced natural strength bottling of hand-selected casks containing Scotch Whisky distilled at Highland Park Distillery in 1994 and earlier years. To appreciate it fully, take your time and add a little fresh still water – a couple of drops at a time. This will release the subtle aromas and reveal the complexity of a single malt that has been made within a mile of St. Magnus Cathedral since 1798.

Whisky has been made in the traditional manner at Highland Park for more than 210 years. Released in 2009 this bottling is a tribute to the skilled and dedicated craftsmen who built the St. Magnus Cathedral.

For more information visit http://www.highlandpark.co.uk

  • Right side of box, with brass latch and information about Earl Magnus:

Magnus Box Right

Earl Magnus Erlendsson was born in 1075 when the Orkney Islands belonged to Norway. His Viking ancestors were terrifying warriors whose code of heroism, hatred and honour through vengeance framed their brutal lives. Into this world came Magnus, a man unlike any other Orkney Earl, spreading Christianity.

The pease-loving Magnus was unlike his cousin Haakon who remained imbued with the fighting spirit. Haakon was envious and ambitious, striving for self-glory. Their history is a classic tale of the struggle of good versus evil; the treachery and tragedy of the life of Earl Magnus accounts for his prominence in northern literature.

Magnus reigned jointly with his cousin Haakon from 1108 until 1115 when their followers fell out. Peace was negotiated and the Earls agreed to meet bringing only two ships each. The treacherous Haakon arrived with eight ships and captured his saintly cousin. The Norwegian chieftains decided that one of the Earls must die. After the refusal of his standard-bearer to undertake the task, Haakon ordered his cook to kill Magnus which he did by striking him on the head with an axe.

The life of Magnus is celebrated in two Icelandic Sagas and in the Orkneyinga Saga; he was buried where he died and legend has it the rocky area around the site immediately became a green field.

The fame of Magnus, canonized only 20 years after his death, has been maintained by the stunning cathedral built by his nephew in Kirkwall; St Magnus Cathedral was referred to as ‘incontestably the most glorious monument of the Norwegian dominion to be found in Scotland’ by J. Moodie Heddle, Orkney and Shetland, 1920.

Work began in 1137 and continued over several hundred years. In 1917 a secret cavity was found in one of the columns; in it was a box containing ancient bones including an axe-wounded skull. The influence of Earl Magnus spread far and wide; the forename became popular in Orkney, notably in the case of Magnus Eunson, a man forever associated with the founding of Highland Park distillery in 1798.

  • Back of bottle, with raised logo and wording:

Magnus bottle (back)

  • Highland Park logo on bottle:

Magnus bottle HP logo

  • Bottle top with wax seal. The ribbon hanging out cuts easily through the wax. Nothing like trying to open one of those freaking Aberlour A’bunadh bottles. :-)

Magnus bottle top

  • An imperfect bottle surface and concave bottom, mimicking the style created in 1870:

Magnus bottle surface texture

  • Air bubbles in the bottle (upper middle):

Magnus bottle air bubbles

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Introduction

This is part 2 of my look at the Highland Park core expressions. In Part 1, I shared some details about how HP creates their whisky, and compared the 12, 15 and 18 year offerings. In this post, I will continue with the 21, 25 and 30 year expressions, for which I ordered a 50ml sample of each. The only core expressions I’m leaving out of these posts are the 16 year and 40 year. I might be getting a sample of the 16 soon, though.

Three HPs

Highland Park 21, 25 and 30

Highland Park 21 (47.5% abv; $100-$120?)

Bottle Stamp: L0886H 22:10

The 21 year was released in 2007, exclusive to travel retail and duty-free. The 21 year is based on the DNA of the HP 1977 Bicentenary (singlemalt.tv video link) special release, with an emphasis on refill sherry casks. This is supposed to bring out more smoke. There is also a “slight emphasis” on American oak (from the April 2008 HP newsletter), but I don’t know what the percentage is. While the 1977 Bicentenary release was bottled at 40% (43% in the U.S.), this new one was released at 47.5%. However, this past year, Highland Park announced a shortage of casks for the 21 year, so they are now bottling it at 40%. If you see the 47.5% version, get it!

Nose: Take the 15 year and add raspberry to the lime on the nose, plus additional smoke and oak. However, the smoke seems to subdue the citrus relative to the 15.
Palate: Initial sweetness, then intense citrus on the palate. The extra 4.5% abv over the younger expressions really does seem to add impact as the liquid moves from the front to the middle of the mouth.
Finish: Smoke and citrus hit the back of the nostrils hard on the finish, but then dissipate quickly, leaving a medium smoke for a reasonably long time.
Comments:I kept wanting to compare this to the HP 15 43% expression. It really does seem to have a similar underlying profile, but with a purposeful infusion of smoke, and an impact on the palate that makes you want to sip and enjoy. The 15 year, meanwhile, doesn’t offer much of a challenge to the palate, but it’s extremely (dangerously) drinkable. Compared to the HP 18, I felt that this 21 year was less complex, but certainly offers more of a punch. It’s a trade-off between complexity/balance and smoke/impact. I call it a tie at 90 points.

Highland Park 25 (48.1% abv; $250-$275)

Bottle Stamp: L0914G 13:11

Highland Park introduced the 25 year in 1998, a year after the 18 year was released. The 25 year extends a pattern with the 12 and 18 year bottlings, with a focus on European oak, and an increase in the use of first fill casks with each successive release. The 15, 21 and 30 year (all introduced later) all break from this pattern in some way. Bottled with 50% first fill sherry casks, the HP 25 is the darkest whisky in the lineup (HP does not use caramel coloring in any of their releases). This high proportion of first fill sherry casks is also intended to provide a very sweet experience (the sweetest in the lineup).

Nose: We’re back to the dried fruits, figs and berries of the 18. However, it seems a little muted in comparison, and it’s more fig than berry. Not particularly smoky.
Palate: It starts a little flat and dull, then explodes with smoke and pepper at the back of the palate and into the finish. Only the fig remains of the fruits.
Finish: Big hit of smoke and dried fruit, but for me, it subsided much more quickly than I expected and turned a bit flat.
Comments: This is an excellent whisky, but I’m a little disappointed. I’ve seen a number of whisky enthusiasts expressing a preference for the 25 year over the 30, and at $200 less, that makes for the kind of “bargain” that I love (granted, we’re still in super premium range). However, the nose never seems to blossom with this one. It’s got nice impact on the palate, but the pleasure is fleeting, and to me, it lacks the complexity I was seeking in a 25 year HP. 89 points.

Highland Park 30 (48.1% abv; $450)

Bottle Stamp L 0999G 23:11

The 30 year was just introduced in 2005 as a regular release. The maturation “recipe”, if you will, for the 30 year differs significantly from the 25. In this one, only refill casks are used. 25% of them are American sherry oak, and the other 75% are European sherry oak. As mentioned with the 21 year, the focus on refill casks is intended to bring the smoke more to the fore, in order to balance the heavier sweetness that comes from the long period in European oak casks.

Nose: Rich toffee sweets turn to dried fruits, then it blossoms into fresh berries and kiwi. There is a light to medium smokiness. Surprisingly subtle oak given the age.
Palate: More fruit and sweets up front, then turns peppery approaching the finish. My tongue is all a-tingle.
Finish: This one just goes on and on, with lingering pepper on the tongue and fruity smoke dancing in the nostrils.
Comments: The 30 year is everything I hoped the 25 would be. Looking at other reviews now, I see mention of orange and chocolate for the 30 year, which I equate to the combination of American and European oak. However, my own sensory interpretation of this one is that the American oak takes the fig and dried fruit from the European oak and turns it into fresh berries. It reminds me of the fruitiness that comes from my all time favorite Laphroaig 30. I’m tempted to rate them as equals, with the HP 30 providing more impact in the mouth than the Laphroaig, but the Laphroaig 30 having a magical nose that I haven’t found the equal of yet. If I had to pick just one, it would be the Laphroaig. Let’s say 92.5 points.

Big HP, little HP

The three expressions in my Part 1 post were all bottled at 43%, while the three discussed in this post are in the 47-48% range. The additional abv definitely makes a difference in palate impact, and that seems to carry through to the finish.

When comparing the full lineup, I think it’s easy to get drawn into the impact of the higher abv (big) releases and suddenly find the younger (little) ones feeling weak and less satisfying. I urge caution when taking this approach.

For example, when I tasted the HP 18 immediately after the HP 30 (with some water in between), I had momentary doubts about my professed love for the 18 year expression. Should I really rate it as close to the 30 as I did, even with the obvious difference in mouth impact and smoke? However, when I pull out the 18 year and evaluate it on its own, the doubts disappear. It’s a fabulous, complex, well balanced whisky.

Conclusion

I’m thoroughly impressed with the whole HP line. Having learned a little bit about the way they use their casks in the maturation process, I’m also in awe of their blenders. I’ll feel very “safe” purchasing new expressions from this distillery (like the upcoming Earl Magnus 15 yr. cask strength). As for the six expressions from these two posts…

The HP 12 is a fantastic value at around $35, but as long as I can afford it, I’ll opt for a combination of HP 15 and HP 18 in my cabinet for regular Highland Park cravings. I love the lime and sheer drinkability of my 43% U.S. bottling of the 15 year, but not sure what to think of the 40% version based on my 50ml sample experience. If I could get my hands on the 47.5% 21 year, that would be a no brainer, too, but I’d like to sample the new 40% bottling first. In the super premium category, if I came up with $250+ to spend on an HP (not this year), I’d mail order a 30 year from the U.K. for about the same price as the 25 year goes for here in the States.

Finally, it’s the 18 year and 30 year expressions that stood out the most to me. I totally get it if some people feel the 18 doesn’t have quite enough smoke, or impact in the mouth, but I think that’s overlooking the amazing complexity and balance of that dram. Deciding between the 18 year and 21 year kind of feels like choosing between a luxury sedan and a sports car. Now, the HP 30…that’s a freaking Porche Panamera. Luxurious accommodations, but still does 0-60 in 3.3 and pulls 0.92g on the skid pad. The Highland Park 30 looks better than the Panamera, though. :-)

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Introduction

I haven’t had the opportunity to attend a Highland Park tasting event, but I did notice that they bottle miniatures of most of their lineup, so I decided to buy some of those and do an HP comparison in the comfort of my own home. I already owned full size bottles of HP 12 and 18, so I purchased miniatures of the 15, 21, 25 and 30. Later, I discovered that the UK bottling of the 15 year (and the 12 year for that matter) are at 40% vs. the U.S. 43% version, so I ended up buying a full size bottle of HP 15 locally for the comparison.

Highland Park lineup

In this post, I’ll share my tasting notes and thoughts on the 12, 15 and 18 year bottlings. I’ll then post a “Part 2″ to compare the 21, 25 and 3o year, and discuss how those older, higher proofed bottlings relate to these first three. I’m leaving out the 16 year duty-free and 40 year bottlings from this comparison, as I wasn’t able to find miniatures of those two.

The Highland Park whisky making process

Highland Park seems to be known for its sweetness up front, which turns to drying and a light smoke at the end. The smoke comes from the use of some peated barley. The peat itself comes from Orkney, and the fact that it’s formed from the heathery moorland supposedly results in adding a honey sweetness to the barley, in addition to the smoke.

Assuming that they always start with the same basic spirit, coming from the same stills, I was curious as to what components go into the “recipe” for creating the individual HP expressions besides the length of maturation:

  • Cask type: HP uses only sherry casks in the making of their whisky, but they use a combination of Spanish and American oak casks. The Spanish oak contributes dried fruit flavors, while the American oak provides vanilla and citrus notes.
  • Refill cask ratio: They use varying combinations of first fill and refill sherry casks, with the ratio between these two being used for color consistency as well (they don’t caramel color their whisky).
  • Cask Harmonization: Each batch of whisky, after a primary maturation period in different types of casks, is vatted together, and then returned to casks for six or more months of additional maturation. The older HP expressions are “harmonized” for longer periods. This process adds consistency to the HP releases.

I don’t think they disclose the specific ratios for all three of these elements of maturation, but I’ll share what information I’m aware of as I discuss each of the expressions.

[Note: All prices listed are just the local price range from a couple of big box liquor stores (Total Wine & More and Bevmo)]

Highland Park 12 (43%; $35-45)

HP 12HP 12 was the first Highland Park single malt, and the only standard expression from 1979 until 1997, when they introduced the 18 year expression. The 12 year is matured predominantly in Spanish oak casks, 20% of which are first fill.

Nose: Peaches in syrup, a hint of leather (that’s right…I said leather, not heather), and something a little earthy/vegetal, though I hesitate to say peat. Sometimes the peaches seem more like candied orange.
Palate: A good mouth coating with more sweets, some spice and a nice tingle on the tongue. Becoming dry at the end.
Finish: Medium length with continued drying. The fruitiness is back, though muted, and enveloped in a light smoke.
Comments: Ok, is it just me, or does the HP 12 nose have a lot in common with Dalmore 12? However, the HP separates itself with more impact in the mouth, and a longer, more interesting finish. I felt the Dalmore 12 was worth 83 or 84 points, and this one deserves a couple more points for the improvements in the mouth. An excellent standard expression! 86 points.

Highland Park 15 (43%; $55-65)

HP 15The 15 year is matured in 30% first fill casks, vs 20% for the 12 year. Additionally, there is a higher proportion of American oak casks. I don’t know what the ratio of American to Spanish oak casks is, though. The 15 year was just introduced in 2003.

Nose: Seems simpler than the 12, actually. HUGE lime (like it’s infused with lime peels) with a little bit of oak, and just the slightest hint of smoke.
Palate: Citrus with some sweet spices. More drying than the 12, and a little more zip and tingle on the tongue.
Finish: Drying, with big lime coming back, along with the light smoke that seems to be a signature HP trait.
Comments: The 15 year is not a natural progression on the way from the 12 to the 18. The shift in focus from Spanish to American oak really changes the profile, and I can understand where some people would find this a bit disconcerting. I’m a big fan, though. It’s not super complex, but that infusion of lime perks me up and makes me take notice. I love the way it adds zip in the mouth, while still retaining the fascinating drying and light smoke from the 12 year. Personally, I’m inclined to reach for this one over the 12 in most cases. Is this one of those guilty pleasures? Will the lime start seeming excessive by the time I empty the bottle? I don’t know, but right now I’d give it 88 points.
[Update] I revisited the 15 year in my Earl Magnus blog post and the lime does seem a little more over the top now. The palate is a little more watery, too. I updated my rating to 87 points just to show a little more separation between this and the 18 year and Magnus. I still think the 15 is a great whisky.

A tale of two HP 15 year olds: I mentioned at the top that I had also ordered a mini of the 40% HP 15 from the UK. I wanted to provide notes on the 40% vs 43% bottlings, but I encountered a problem. My 40% sample was completely flat on the palate, and when it hit the finish, an off-putting soapy flavor came up into my nostrils and stuck with me until I washed it away with one of the good HPs. For now, I’m giving HP the benefit of the doubt, and assuming I somehow got a bad sample. If that’s not the case, and this is what the 40% 15 year old tastes like, that would be a real shame.

Highland Park 18 (43%; $83-99)

HP 18Now we jump up to 45% first fill casks, and predominantly Spanish oak like with the 12 year. The 18 year was the second core single malt expression introduced…18 years after the 12 year was introduced, funny enough.

Nose: Darker and richer than either the 12 or 15. Much more fruity. Starting with dried fruits and sweet spices and turning into fresh red fruits and berries. Not a sherry bomb, but the additional first fill casks are obvious here. I think I’m also picking up a little bit of fresh oak underneath the fruit.
Palate: Good body and fruity flavor. Bigger mouth feel than the 12 or 15.
Finish: More red fruits. There is smoke, and it’s starting to get bigger than with the first two…lifting the fruits up into the back of the nostrils and staying for a while.
Comments: Wow! Amazing balance on this one. The way the Spanish sherry cask influence comes out, but doesn’t completely take over is very appealing. It doesn’t seem quite as drying as the first two, actually, but still a great mouth feel. Sweets, spices, oak, fruit, smoke…they all enter and exit at the right points, and mix together in the right way. It’s hard to explain, but I just have a hard time finding fault. That’s not to say it can’t be improved upon. There could be more mouth impact and more smoke, and I wouldn’t complain one bit. Still…this is a pretty amazing whisky. I rank it right up in the neighborhood of my favorites at 90 points.

Comparison

It’s interesting how they’ve used the sweet/smoky combination to  achieve a common, identifiable distillery character across the expressions, yet each is a very distinct experience. I don’t know that age has contributed to the differences between the 12 and 15 year so much as the maturation “recipe”, especially with regards to the use of American oak. The 18 year, on the other hand, seems to have a richness about it that indicates a sweet spot in the aging process.

If you just look at the point ratings I assign to these three expressions, it looks like I’m phoning it in and awarding a couple of points for every 3 years of aging. That’s not the case at all, though. These three expressions arrive at their satisfaction level and rating in completely different ways, with age potentially playing just a little bit of a roll in the 18 year story. I could imagine somebody switching these ratings around based on personal preference, but I find it easy to recommend all of these as high quality drams with a good value proposition (not taking into account that 40% 15 year sample).

Coming in Part 2…

In my next post, I’ll compare the 21, 25 and 30 year, which all have a higher alcohol percentage. I’ll also talk about them relative to these younger expressions with regards to profile similarities and value proposition. I REALLY want to like the 25 year more than the 30 because of the price difference, but will it be able to pull off the upset? Also, my take on the 21 year being voted the best whisky in the world this past year in the Whisky Magazine awards.

Update: Here’s the link to The HP core expressions – Part 2

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Singlemalt.tv and Highland Park teamed up to do a live webcast back on September 28th. Gerry Tosh, head of brand education at highland park, and his boss Jason Craig discussed (and tasted) the new Earl Magnus 15 year Cask Strength special release that is coming out by the end of the year. They also talked about the general plan for HP special releases in the near to medium term, and hinted at a possible addition to the standard HP lineup.

Check out the video here:
http://blog.singlemalt.tv/?p=444

[Update: The above link isn’t working well for me right now. Here’s a link to the High Resolution Video on singlemalt.tv]

Now, for those who don’t feel like watching the full 25 minute video, I thought I’d go ahead and summarize some of the most interesting tidbits:

  • Special Releases
    • HP looking to put significant effort into satisfying enthusiast/collector demand for special releases.
    • Earl Magnus is Edition 1 of a series of “affordable collectible” releases to come out in round bottles with darker glass.
    • Also looking at some high end collectible releases: Vintages, 50 year, etc.
  • Earl Magnus
    • 15 year old cask strength at 52.6% ABV.
    • To be priced in the 75 to 85 GBP price range. [Update: Looks like 85 GBP]
    • Just under 6,000 bottles to be released.
    • Will contain some older casks as well.
    • American oak and high ABV combines to make the smoke stand out. Not as sweet as the Hjarta.
    • Lemon/lime/coconut flavors due to the American oak.
    • Update [12/7/09] – Whiskyfun has now reviewed Earl Magnus. 90 points.
    • Update [12/15/09] – Check out a high resolution picture over at Edinburgh Whisky Blog.
    • Update [2/10/10] – My own unbottling and initial impressions, with lots of pictures and packaging details.
  • “Affordable collectible” Edition 2
    • The follow-up to Earl Magnus will come out next year.
    • Age not yet determined…could move to an 18 year or go back to a 10-13 year release.
    • If 18 year, probably closer to 4,000 bottles to be released. If younger, maybe 7,000 to 9,000 bottles.
    • Price will be 10-20 GBP higher or lower than Earl Magnus depending on age.
  • Vintages
    • Yet another bottle style. Jet-black glass with flared bottom.
    • 2 vintage releases per year.
    • Looking to release 10 vintages over the next 4-6 years.
    • 1964 and 1968 to be the first two vintage releases.
      • Coming in March/April 2010.
      • 290 bottles of 1964; 1,550 bottles of 1968.
  • 50 Year
    • They have some casks that will turn 50 in Jan. 2010.
    • Still planning the details of the 50 year release.
    • Look for it in Summer 2010.
  • New Make Spirit
    • Planning to make new-make spirit available, probably only at the Distillery (or possibly from web site).
    • Probably would come in smaller bottles.
  • 12 year Cask Strength core range bottling
    • Gerry and Jason both feel that they should do a standard 12 CS release.
    • Hjarta showed strong demand for higher strength.
    • Hoping for success with Earl Magnus…could play into the decision.
    • No commitment or details…just hinting that it’s very possible.
  • HP Packaging
    • Current flat bottle design based on some bottles they found in their archives from 1920s/30s. Not just dreamed up out of nowhere.
    • They also had some quality problems with the old bottle that led to the change.

Are these exciting times for HP or what? Apparently their traditional focus on primarily the standard 12 year bottling (up until 1997/1998) has allowed them to build up quite a stock of older casks. That’s why they’re now able to offer the 30 and 40 year as permanent releases. This also affords them quite a bit of creative freedom with these special releases.

Cheers,
Jeff

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