When I scored this bottle in Feb 2022, I suspected it would be many months, perhaps even years before I would find the right opportunity to open it! First was getting it from London to Mumbai – which happened in March 2022. Then I needed to join from Nurnberg to Mumbai – also happened by April 2022. And most importantly, finding the right occasion? And that’s when India’s Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula mentioned he would be in town, together with two founders of SMAC India. I also knew once opened, an additional tasting session could follow where this could be shared as a “bonus”! Including the very person who kindly let me use his London address and brought the bottle to India!
So what did we think?
Orkney 22 year (9 June 1999 – February 2022) bourbon hogshead 53.4% (311 bottles)
- Nose – Subtle and mellow at first, salt spray from the seashore, lovely herbal notes, then started to reveal butterscotch and gingerbread, fruit strudel – perhaps apricot? Then pears and melons, then tart slightly sour stewed apples. Then sweet varnish. A nice earthy element kept the desert qualities in check – sweet but not overly so!
- Palate – Wonderful! Buttery brandy. Salted old-fashioned black licorice, a hint of tobacco. Such a fabulous mouthfeel – tempts you to just keep rolling it around, enjoying its marvelous viscosity, a marvelous mix – from herbal to lightly fruity to smoke and pepper – all beautifully balanced and creamy
- Finish – Rewarding, dry, bitter cinnamon bark, more of that enchanting herbal element… only complaint is that it dissipates too quickly leaving only a faint impression
- Water – Necessary? No however also lovely with! Makes it sweeter, black peppercorn pops out, cloves and still nice and buttery
Take your time with this one… the more time you give it, the more it gives you! I was so happy to revisit it a few days later in a leisurely long evening over excellent cheese, fresh bread, and conversation.
Simply put – what an utterly lovely dram. If you blind tasted it, I strongly suspect Highland Park would NOT be the obvious option.
What did David have to say in his email?
Also available is a new 22-year-old Orkney. H*ghl*nd P*rk produces a consistently excellent distillate, but I always think these late-1990s vintages have a special something about them.
So, the nose starts on soft notes of lemony wax, honey and orange, with a wee clean herbal backing (eucalyptus, spearmint, lime leaves) and then really opens up the longer it breathes. There’s something fruity and lightly medicinal happening (think cherry lozenges), banana Nesquik powder (my secret shame), sea air and a thin thread of bonfire smoke. Adding water is transformative: tangerine Altoids, spearmint chews, angelica, sea water and heather.
The palate is rich, resinous and honeyed in texture. I get malt extract, lemons & limes & salt, plus a peppery peatiness that almost has a gentle Talisker feel. I also find seafood with salty-buttered brown bread, herbal liqueur and cough syrup. The finish is really long, with dried herbs, sweet citrus, and lingering smoke. Water again opens things up in a herbal direction: crushed mint leaves, lemon tea, pine needles and salty orangey honey.
This bourbon hogshead produced 311 bottles at 53.4% for £135 plus tax and courier charges.
Here are more from La Nouvelle Vague series:
- Mannochmore 12 year 58.7% – A delicious fruit basket!
- Orkney 15 year 57.1%– Absolutely gorgeous dram
- Croftnegea 13 year 53.9% – Enchanting!
- Glen Elgin 12 year 52.6% – Intended as an “appetizer”, packs a “kick” too!
- Bunnahabhain 18 year 53.4% – Such a chameleon! Must take your time with this dram – absolutely fantastic with its quirky character
- Orkney (Highland Park) 22 year 53.4% – Prompted quite different reactions in different contexts – from big and full to curiously shy, there is a lot going on with this one
- Tormore 28 year 42.4% – A summer dram by the seaside with rare yet rewarding mineral and nutty elements joining a fruit basket
Here are the Chorltons we’ve sampled from the L’Ancien Régime series:
- Blair Athol 12 years 56.6% – Nurnberg lebkuchen of chocolate and gingerbread in a glass!
- Ruadh Maor 8 year 62.5% (aka Glenturret) – Seasoned meats and fried snacks…. a chameleon quality that evolved differently in each glass
- Mackmyra 12 years 50.2% – Fresh, clean, cherry wood and honey
- Miltonduff 9 years 58.3% – Creamy dessert with fruits, breakfast cereals… in short delicious!
- Miltonduff 11 years 62.0% – Great contrast between fruity nose and surprisingly rich palate
- Orkney 9 year 63.1% – Copper, minerals, salted caramel, and smoke, all beautifully balanced
- Tomintoul 14 year 57.6% – Jammy cookies and cakes with sweet spices
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