Whisky Reviews

Highland Park 13 y.o. & Caol Ila 30 y.o.


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As regular readers of this, or indeed (nearly) any other, whisky blog will know, a perk of a whisky critic’s “job” is that you occasionally get sent a free little taster from various distillers. Well, a couple of months ago (yep, I’ve taken my sweet time – sorry, Master of Malt) I received two small taster bottles from Master of Malt. One was a 13 year old Highland Park, the other a 30 year old Caol Ila. The reason for my taking to so very, very long to tear these bottles open and put together reviews was that I thought it could be fun to get someone else’s opinion as well. The someone I had in mind was none other than my own old father, if anything any even bigger whisky fanatic than myself, and in the end my mother joined in as well – though mainly as a trained nose, as she admittedly doesn’t care much for the taste of whisky.

The Highland Park was my mother’s favorite, and between us we agreed that the nose was sweet with honey, sugary lemonade (e.g. Sprite), and a floral note. We also found herbs, spices, a mild licorice/fennel and, much to my own surprise, we found ourselves agreeing with Miguel over at A Wardrobe of Whisky in that there was definitely a note reminiscent of beef stock in there. Odd, but good. The palate presented a sweet fruity note; in particular we found banana, vanilla and cloudberry, along with a mild leathery undertone.

Overall a very pleasant whisky indeed, and unusually my dear mother found it at least somewhat enjoyable – the nose very much so.

Eye: A light Riesling.

Nose: Honey, sweet lemonade, floral, herbs, spices, mild fennel and beef stock.

Palate: Fruity (banana, vanilla, cloudberry), some leather.

The 30 year old Caol Ila was my father’s favorite (in case you were wondering, I couldn’t really decide between the two, as they are very different, and it would probably vary between moods). We found the nose to be medicinal, with wet pinewood and eucalyptus (again in agreement with Miguel) and cough medicine, along with a vanilla and fruity sweetness – primarily pear, peach and predominantly watermelon, and of course peat. A most enjoyable nose indeed. The palate was fairly similar, with a well-balanced combination of peat, water-/honey melon (we couldn’t quite agree, there), a sweet spiciness and heather.

Eye: Golden caramel.

Nose: Medicinal (wet pine, eucalyptus, cough medicine), peat, vanilla, pear, peach and watermelon.

Palate: Peat, water-/honey melon, sweet spiciness and heather.

Both of these whiskies were, much to our delight, very good indeed.

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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