Outstanding Value from a Cherished Island Distillery
1999 Finest Orkney (Highland Park) 18 Year Old “John Milroy” KL Exclusive Single Refill Hogshead Cask Strength Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($99.99)
“This superb single barrel of Highland Park represents one of the greatest values we’ve ever offered.”
—David Othenin-Girard, KL SoCal Spirits Buyer
Here we have round two of the absolutely unprecedented single barrel offerings from Highland Park! Last week it was a 12-year-old ex-sherry barrel for nearly $200, but this week it’s all about value. Over the past two years, something very unusual has happened with Highland Park. A distillery that has typically guarded its stock very closely has been popping up at bottlers across Scotland. Word on the street is that Edrington (their parent company) needed cash to fund their outrageous new Macallan distillery. Whether or not those rumors are true, it’s been incredible to finally taste some single barrel Highland Park at full strength from our suppliers. The only problem is that they know what they’ve got is really special, and their prices have reflected this quality.
To get an idea of the current market on Highland Park, consider this: we sold a 20-year-old Highland Park last year from Old Particular for $200 that felt like a deal compared to many other bottlers. We’re also seeing 18-year-old stuff in cask at close to £150 a bottle, which would translate to upward of $250-300 on the shelf stateside. Anything older is just priced out of range of most consumers. Were it not for a bit of perseverance and a keen eye, we’d be selling you this cask for nearly three times the price. That’s why we pay attention. We saw an opportunity and worked hard to get a great price for an incredible whisky that may never be repeated. Cask strength single barrel Highland Park for less than $100? It’s almost unfathomable. But even more special than the price is the gorgeous Orkney whisky inside the bottle. The purity and grace of nearly two decades in barrel with the complex heathery smoke that Highland Park is famous for are truly why we bought this cask. It’s a perfect contrast to the over-the-top flavors of 12-Year we sold. A true old-school glory in our book—the ridiculous price is just the icing on the cake.
The Highland Park distillery has always been a favorite of aficionados. It’s risen to international prominence over the last several years thanks to a strong marketing push from their owners, the Edrington Group. Their move toward highlighting the Orkney’s Viking history has brought about a plethora of unique “limited” offerings and special editions. While many have been very good, the general theme is fewer age statements and higher prices. But, something has happened over the last couple of years. An unbelievable amount of “no name” Orkney casks have popped up at bottlers across Scotland. Most bottlers know that they’ve stumbled on a cash cow. Cask strength single barrel HP commands very high prices on the open market, so our suppliers didn’t think anything of expecting to get £150 ($300+ stateside) per bottle for this stuff. And several bottlers have gone ahead and done just that ’cause why not? The juice is delicious, and it sells well at the higher price. We want to offer value to our customers beyond what the regular market provides. If everyone can do it, we’re probably not interested. So when our friend Doug McIver came to use with this wonderful cask at bargain basement prices, we knew we had a winner. Cask strength single cask HP 18 for $100 retail? We’d buy 10 of these if we could. This is the real deal, old school, naked cask strength Orkney like nothing else on the market today.
David Othenin-Girard | KL Staff Member | Review Date: January 24, 2019
This superb single barrel of Highland Park represents one of the greatest values we’ve ever offered. We worked hard last year to get the price down of a single cask of 20-year-old HP from a refill hogshead. The great HP flood began nearly 3 years ago when I got an email from a supplier in Scotland offering us a parcel of THOUSANDS of Highland Park barrels at between 12-18 years old. I nearly choked on my morning coffee as a read the email. They wanted millions for the lot. While I briefly considered pitching the idea to our owners, I ultimately decided that we’d never be able to handle these quantities at our stores. So over the last couple of years we’ve watched as small lots of HP have popped up at bottlers across Scotland. Most had paid a premium to brokers for the prized malt. We weren’t prepared to indulge them, unless they were superlatively good, like the Old Particular from last year. When we commit to a barrel everything needs to come into place – the flavor, the price, the packaging. It’s gotta tick all the boxes. This is one of those whiskies. While not as heady or sherried as the OP, the purity and overt deliciousness of this cask is profound. The sweet and salt Orkney malt is vibrant and layered but somehow restrained on the nose. Flecks of oyster shell, lemon balm, earthy malt, honeysuckle and white pepper. On the palate that gorgeous Orkney peat pops up. Pristine with something floral behind (heather of course), and oceanic without the iodine of Islay, it’s pretty thick on the palate- oily, camphor, more pepper, bitter oranges, and green teas. Long and lingering. With water the nose opens, and the lemon becomes more prominent. The sweet malt falls away, and more peat comes through for some reason. All in all I’m not sure there’s a better way to spend $100 right now in the store.
Will Blakely | KL Staff Member | Review Date: February 03, 2019
A rare treat at an unbelievable price. It starts with a sea breeze and soft golden malt on the nose, with a whisper of smoke. Then all at once the taste blows you away – rich and complex with ample smoke. Earthy citrus, dried fruit, sweet cereal, and decadent fudge all play like a symphony on the palate with saline, fennel, and spice as counterpoint. This feels bright and concentrated, youthful even, but with a sophisticated finish that can only come with age.
Article source: http://www.whiskyintelligence.com/2019/02/outstanding-value-from-a-cherished-island-distillery-1999-finest-orkney-highland-park-18-year-old-john-milroy-kl-exclusive-single-refill-hogshead-cask-strength-single-malt-scotch-whisky-news/