SMWS Advent Calendar: Day 9

Another day, another cask. Today the SMWS Calendar has a Highland Park in store for us. It’s the “Viking. Moderate. Gale Force 8.” A nine-year-old dram with a devilish twist.  As it’s bottled at 66,6 % ABV, the number of the beast. I’m always happy to find a peated dram and Highland Park often enough has some amazing independent bottlings. So, I can’t wait to see what this beast has in store for me! I’m still wishing for a bit higher age statements on these advent calendar drams, but for peated whiskies I don’t mind it all too much. Let’s hope for a few more years (to shake things up a bit) on tomorrows dram though…

Tasting Notes: Society Cask 4.320 “Viking. Moderate. Gale Force 8.”

ABV: 66,6% (133.2 proof)

Age: 9 years old

Distillery: Highland Park

Bottled by: The Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Category: Single Malt Scotch Whisky

SMWS Flavour Profile: Peated

Chill-filtered: No

Natural Colour: Yes

Nose:

Looking in my glass, I see some of the best-looking legs I’ve ever seen on a dram. Tiny droplets ring the glass and trickle down as sand through an hourglass. The first smell that comes of the glass has more fruit than it does peat. I’m getting some lemons, apples, and a hibiscus kind of tea. There are some light coastal influences as well, but nothing like I usually get from a Highland Park. This nose is very tamed and mild. There sure is some peat though if you go looking for it, but it’s much harder to find than you might suspect. I’m also getting the slightes raw cookie dough note, which I find utmost pleasant. A couple of drops of water seems to enhance the coastal influences in this dram, with salt coming more to the fore. Combined with its sweeter elements it almost becomes salted caramel.

Palate:

This is a fiery dram. The beast that drew you in with it’s alluring and docile nose, shows its true face at the first sip. There’s a deceitfully sweet note on the palate, with honey and lemonade that pull you in for the kill. Driftwood and peat are right around the corner as well. Notes I usually find reminiscent of the day after the storm. But its kinder honeyed counterparts warn me that this is just the eye of the storm. With the drams rougher edges just around the corner, ready to hit you with force in the form of charred wood and biting peppers. This whisky truly evolves into a beast as you give it a swirl around your mouth. Just like on the nose, water reveals some salted caramel. And the peppers do get drawn back a bit. Be warned though, it’s no less a beast. It just transforms from a fiery dragon, into a raging leviathan.

Finish:

From the force the palate hit me with, I would have expected a longer finish. Instead, it’s just a medium finish, with a nice lemon iced tea kind of vibe to it. The beast has once again gone to rest, lurking in the shadows until you take your next sip. A little salty liquorice shows up as well, a note I always love in a dram. It’s pleasant enough to make you want to face the beast again. Like yesterday’s dram, this finish also benefits from a few drops of water. Giving it a little extra oomph, and a fair amount of extra length.

Verdict:

I like this whisky. A lot. This dram from Orkney has one thing in its repertoire that can always sway me… it tells a great story. I believe that every whisky has a story, but one will always be greater than the other. And what I like most about this dram is the fact that it holds in store such duality. Water can reveal so much that it truly transforms this dram. Making it a different beast altogether. It tells a tale of land and sea. Of the raging powers of the elements. And I could listen to this dram’s stories, all day long. “Viking. Moderate. Gale Force 8.” is not the best dram I’ve ever had, but it sure is exciting to spend time with it.

Rating:

90/100

How did I know this was a Highland Park? Just look at the code and find it in my SMWS bottle codes list!

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