Whisky Focus - Highland Park 1968 Orcadian Vintage Series

Highland Park 1968 Orcadian Vintage Series

9th November 2009
This very rare Highland Park whisky has been created from eight casks from 1968, specifically chosen by Max McFarlane for their exceptional character. All the casks were refill casks, that is to say they were previously used to mature whisky. Seven were hogsheads (circa 250 litre capacity) and one was a butt (circa 500 litre capacity).When combined together 1,550 bottles at 45.6% ABV were created.

Every time a cask is used, its ability to influence the spirit is diminished. When laying down a whisky for extended maturation, such as this 1968 Vintage, it is important that the cask doesn’t dominate the spirit.

If first fill casks had been used, the sweetness (an oak derived additive quality from the cask) would have been too strident.

As they used refill casks to create this vintage, they have allowed the quality and delicate fragrance of the original new make spirit to shine through without being dominated by the aged wood notes.

The fragrance comes from hand-turned malt which has been dried over Orkney’s aromatic heather-based peat.

In addition, the peaceful, drawn out maturation the whisky has enjoyed in Orkney’s cool climate has resulted in remarkable elegance.

The long-term maturation of this 1968 Vintage has allowed a perfect balance to be achieved. The colour, as with all bottlings of Highland Park, is entirely natural; the delicate coppery paleness of the whisky is down to the judicious use of refill casks. The strength (alcohol by volume), like the colour, is entirely natural.

The Orcadian Vintage Series is easily recognisable as it is bottled in black glass. The bottle shape echoes that of Highland Park 40 year old, slightly bell-bottomed and with a heavy base.

A silver amulette is set into the glass indicating that this is a prestigious variant of Highland Park. The hand-tooled silver top is a fitting craftsman’s closure and features Viking knotwork.

The 1968 Vintage is a limited release of only 1,550 bottles, as indicated on the understated label.

Highland Park 1968 Tasting Notes

Released November 2009 this 40 year old single malt was bottled at a cask strength of 45.6% ABV and has a RRP of £2250
  • Colour: A delightfully rich, naturally golden hue with remarkable clarity and brightness.
  • Nose: At full strength, the 1968 Vintage is reminiscent of thick, opaque honey but with attractive notes of lemongrass, sandalwood and a variety of aromatic spices.When reduced, citrus fruit and wood shavings become immediately apparent, followed by sweet aromas of rose and crème caramel.
  • Palate: At natural strength, this expression of Highland Park has a delicious complexity; the citrus evident on the nose develops into dried orange peel whereas the wood shavings transform into toasted oak. The aromatic spices are revealed as ginger and cloves as well as some camphor. The judicious addition of water creates a delicious balance between vanilla sweetness and delicate spiciness.
  • Finish: A lasting impression of rich spiciness is the legacy of a single malt that is extremely long and surprisingly sweet.

Highland Park Orcadian Vintage Series Tasting Notes & Info

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