Now In Stock: Highland Park’s Game-Changer Cask Strength #2 – Scotch Whisky News

A Game-Changer New Release from a Beloved Scotch Icon
Highland Park “Cask Strength – Release #2”
Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
($89.99)

“…this will no doubt be a staple on our shelves and should be considered a deserving deity in the pantheon of great yet affordable regular cask strength releases.”
— David Othenin-Girard, K&L Spirits Buyer

While rarity and price often make for limited availability of Highland Park’s single casks in the open market, the recently debuted “Cask Strength” series is a total game-changer that gives us a standout H.P. whisky to look forward to on a regular basis. Just arrived in store is the second edition of this excellent bottling, which is blended from 10- to 12-year-old stocks. The first batch found all the fans and admirers that you’d expect for this remarkable distillery. Cask Strength #2 picks up where the first edition left off and then takes it up a notch. As our own David Othenin-Girard describes, “While I thought the first batch was perfectly delicious, this second release is garnering some serious hype thanks to the use of mostly Sherry casks in the blend … This is about as close as we can get to the monster single casks we bottled for the store last year, but the blenders have added something extra here.” This incredibly enjoyable dram is a perfect example of the expert Sherry-aging craftsmanship that the Highland Park team brings to the table, and it offers a quintessential expression of the distillery for a fraction of the price of the single casks. For anyone looking for a go-to heavy hitter for the upcoming holidays and beyond, the H.P. Cask Strength #2 will deliver the goods.

Highland Park “Cask Strength – Release #2” Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml) ($89.99)

K&L Notes: The always impressive Highland Park is one of Scotland’s most reliable malts. This awarded distillery is a favorite of many yet has remained slightly in the shadows. One of the few things that the distillery lacked, despite countless unique and collectible bottlings, was a regular cask-strength expression. Thankfully, someone was convinced that the quality level was a solid addition to the already excellent regular line-up and, even more impressively, they’ve decided to offer small batch releases. So, each time they bottle, we’ll get a different window into the exceptional stocks that exists in the tiny, wind-swept Kirkwall warehouses. This is the second release of the Cask Strength, which includes no age statement but likely contains whiskies between 10 and 12 years old. This batch is primarily first- and second-fill European and American Sherry oak, with a handful of bourbon barrels tossed in. The result is something quintessentially Highland Park, offering all the deep complexity of the Sherry coupled with the subtle maritime and smoldering smoky character that is the distiller’s hallmark. If you loved the excellent single barrels we’ve offered over the last few years, there is nothing on the market that gets closer to that exceptional intensity right now, yet these small batches are $50-60 cheaper than the single barrels and arguably offer a more well-rounded experience as well. We thought the Batch No. 2 was so exceptional that we’re buying every bottle they’ll give us.

David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 20, 2021

The new Cask Strength release was a welcome departure from the regularly available lower proof bottlings, but also one of the few opportunities we’ve had to see how the blending team at this far-flung distillery work across multiple releases with the diverse stocks in their warehouses. It’s not a secret that they love a good Sherry butt up there in Kirkwall, but the first batch didn’t have quite the forward Sherry notes that so many H.P. lovers crave. While I thought the first batch was perfectly delicious, this second release is garnering some serious hype thanks to the use of mostly Sherry casks in the blend. Let’s have a taste. The color is Chestnut. Immediately, much more intensity of oak and obvious wine/Sherry influence than the first release. Dense woodsy spice, dried stone fruit, tobacco leaf, pecan pie tempered with a rich vanilla and sweet toffee character. Throughout a pungent line of sweet, floral smoke are the tiniest hints of ocean spray and dried nori. The deftly balanced aromas on the nose lead to a rich, oily texture on the palate. The tannins from the Euro oak are definitely evident, and the dryness is welcome considering my expectation of great sweetness. It’s big, spicy, and totally mouth-coating.

Of course, a whisky at this age craves some water. With a few drops, the savory side gives way to pure orchard fruit, both fresh and dried. The savory salinity is tamed, and now we just get a pinch of salt and smoke behind the absolute waterfall of fruit. One the palate, some gorgeous, peppery smoke remains to balance out the almost too-easy-to-swallow mixture of sweet maltiness, candied fruit, and dark chocolate on the finish. This is about as close as we can get to the monster single casks we bottled for the store last year, but the blenders have added something extra here. If they keep up the quality of these lovely batches, it will no doubt be a staple on our shelves and should be considered a deserving deity in the pantheon of great yet affordable regular cask strength releases in a club with the likes of Laphroaig CS, Aberlour A’bunadh, Lagavulin 12 Year, Springbank 12 Year, etc.

Andrew Whiteley | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: October 20, 2021

It’s taken a long time, but major brands are finally delivering the kinds of bottlings that serious whisky folks have been after—cask strength with no intervention, just a thoughtful blend of barrels left alone to express themselves. The HP Cask Strength is all you could ask for. At 63.9% ABV, it’s a big ol’ whisky. The profile is focused on Highland Park’s strengths—namely, super high-quality Sherry barrels that showcase the whisky’s extraordinary aging environment. There are some American oak Sherry and ex-Bourbon barrels blended in as well, so it’s by no means a massive Sherry bomb, but it is decidedly Sherry-forward. Ripe Bartlett pears on the nose play well with a roasted/candied walnut note from the Sherry. The salty ocean influence is pronounced, and of course, that drizzle of honey and heathered peat stands out as a classic hallmark of Highland Park. Gobs of stone fruit and rich, toasted cereal grains make it an endlessly enjoyable bottle. Super-easy drinking for the huge proof, and even sweet and easier with a little bit of water added. A gorgeous release that delivers everything a whisky aficionado could ask for.

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