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Tasting the results

Having whetted his guests' appetites with talk of herbal smoke, honey flavors, and sherry sweetness, Gerry Tosh broke the seals on three bottles of whisky and passed them around the table for tasting. Here Mr. Tosh's off-the-cuff remarks and my own layman's comments:

photoHighland Park 12 Years Old ( US $39).

Gerry Tosh: "A spirited 12-year-old, and a great 'session whisky.' I could drink it all day long."

My comment: A sweet and subtle whisky, and a good transition from blended to single-malt Scotch for anyone who's been put off by heavy, smoky Island whiskies.

photoHighland Park 18 Years Old (US $66)

Gerry Tosh: "A big step up in complexity from the 12-year-old. This is the bottle I'd keep in the back of the liquor cabinet to serve on special occasions."

My comment: This whisky has an even nicer flavor and a smoother texture than the 12-year-old, with less of an "alcohol vapor" sensation after swallowing. Gerry Tosh believes that 18-year-old whiskies represent the best all-around value for whisky aficionados, and Highland Park's 18-year-old is convincing proof.

photoHighland Park 25 Years Old (US $230)

Gerry Tosh: "This bottle is mine--it's the one I'd keep locked up."

My comment: There's less difference between the 25- and 18-year-olds than there is between the 18- and 12-year-olds, but this complex, subtle whisky is definitely special. It takes on an even more syrupy texture with a splash of water. (Gerry Tosh suggests adding water, which also helps to release flavor and aroma that might otherwise be masked by the alcohol in this high-proof Scotch.)

Highland Park also offers special bottlings from time to time. For example, at press time, there was a limited supply of Highland Park 1977 Vintage Reserve available at US $130 per bottle.

Dessert tip: At another journalist's suggestion, Gerry Tosh ordered vanilla ice cream for dessert, and we all tried both the scoop-and-sip technique and the pour-the-Scotch-over-the-ice-cream approach. The jury's verdict: Highland Park and ice cream are a winning combination--and as a bonus, single-malt Scotch is lower in fat and calories than hot fudge.

Next page: Orkney Islands and distillery tours

In this article:
Highland Park Whisky - Introduction
Making the whiskies
Tasting the results
Orkney Islands, distillery tours
Web links

Also see:
Scotland's Whisky Distilleries

Photos copyright © Highland Park. Used by permission.