Booze Review

Whisky Review – Highland Park The Dark


The other day, I walked over to LimpD’s to deliver his share of our latest and greatest package of liquid gold, because I was raised right (or maybe I was raised wrong? At my age, I’m no longer sure) and find that it’s better to share the bounty of our blogging efforts and not drink it all on my own (because sharing is caring,  or whatever it is that people are wont to say under these circumstances). Anyway, I received a generous sample of boozemail from The Whisky Fairy, tried my fair share, and then delivered what was left to LimpD for his impressions. As is usually the case, the delivery of said sample involved a bit of cloak and dagger as I navigated all the way to his compound (Yes, I am well aware that his house backs up to mine, so it’s not like I had to cross a heavily fortified border wall to deliver the sample, but this back story needs to be kicked up several notches, so work with me here!)…

First, I had to evade a littany of questions from Mrs. G-LO and My Urchins as I exited out the back door, such as:

  • “Hey, Papa! What’s in the brown paper bag?”
  • “Yo, G-LO! What’s with the balaclava, black turtle neck, and black tights? You’re looking mighty suspicious. Again.”
  • “On your way back from wherever the hell you’re going (again), can you pick me up a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby? And no! I’m not calling you fat… Just pick me up a pint of god damn ice cream on your way home… Jesus! You’re so prickly anymore… No, I didn’t call you a prick! You’re impossible. Just go.”

Then, I had to traverse the mine field that is our back yards which involves carefully walking across the stone patio (without setting off the motion detectors!) which leads to our respective lawns and their patches of thorny weeds, divots, poison ivy/sumac/oak, forgotten sports equipment, gopher holes, mud, rocks, fallen tree branches, trip wires, land mines, rakes that are just waiting to be stepped on so that they can rise up and slam us in the face, haphazardly strewn garden hoses, half empty (and probably leaking) propane tanks, miscellaneous and occasionally mismatched lawn furniture that pretty much clashes with EVERYTHING, sniper towers, and last, but certainly not least, rabid attack dogs that are literally drooling to tear us limb from limb (thank goodness for steel chains and sturdy posts with which to restrain those beasts!).

Upon arrival at Castle LimpD (which isn’t at all like Castle Dracula), I had to endure yet another littany of questions, but this time from Benita and LimpD’s Urchins, such as:

  • “Yo, Mr. G-LO! You’re back? AGAIN???”
  • “Yeah yeah yeah. It’s very nice that you brought my husband some whisky, but what exactly do I get out of this transaction?”
  • “What’s with the balaclava, black turtle neck, and black tights again? We’re only a hundred feet away and it’s not like we didn’t see you out there when you set off the lights. And by the way, you may wanna go up a size on that outfit. I’m not saying that you’re fat or anything, but…”
  • “What? You didn’t bring us any ice cream or lemon cookies? And all this time we thought you were raised right. No napkins for you!”

Now that you know all that we endured to bring you this here blog post, let’s get down to the subject at hand, a review of Highland Park’s latest expression, a little whisky that they call, The Dark…

What THEY say…

THE DARK is a rich and powerful expression of Highland Park, matured in sherry seasoned European oak casks to deliver a distinctively deep flavour.

This special release of 28,000 bottles shares the story of the noble Viking warriors who are our ancestors, of our contrasting island seasons and of the intense balance of our whisky.

It is a celebration of autumn and winter on Orkney; a time to escape from the wild weather outside and gather together with friends and family, sharing long nights of conversation and laughter around the table, around the fire. Presented in a beautifully embossed black glass bottle, the serpent dragon design takes its inspiration from the great Norse sagas and embraces both the high sun of summer solstice and the low sun of winter solstice – the polar opposites of our island seasons – while the runic writing reflects the ancient carvings of our Viking ancestors, here on Orkney.

What WE say…

  • Appearance: Clover honey color with thick, slow moving legs (kinda like G-LO).
  • ABV: 52.9%
  • Aroma
    • G-LO: Warm and inviting (unlike me) with lots of dark brown sugar, cinnamon, hints of clove, baked apple, a touch of tobacco, and just a wee bit of subtle smokiness.
    • LimpD: Not as hot as the 52% would suggest with a fair amount of sweetness (sugar, candied fruits), some astringent notes, and then a bit of leather.
  • Taste
    • G-LO: Very light mouthfeel, i.e. not particularly thick or oily. Starts off quite spicy with a blast of cinnamony heat that tingles the tip of my tongue. Dark fruit and tobacco comes through in the middle with that heat never letting go. Gets very dry at the finish with an almost tart quality coming through. Tobacco and spicy, dried fruit lingers in the aftertaste. Adding water brings out the brown sugar notes which lends a nice balance to all the fruity spiciness.
    • LimpD: Again, not as powerful as the 52% would suggest, a bit of spice (more cinnamon than pepper) but then a good bit of raisins and figs that more than compensate for the spice. There is some oil, leather, pipe tobacco and more dried fruit as we progress to a nice, warm finish.

The Verdict

G-LO: Yum yum yum! If sherried whisky is your thing, then The Dark is well worth trying. It gives you that subtle Highland Park smokiness and adds oodles of dark and delicious dried fruits to the experience. I tried this before reading the product information that came with the sample, not realizing that this clocked in at 52.9% ABV. This whisky hides it high octane very very well and goes down very easy. Unfortunately, what doesn’t go down really easy is the price. The MSRP is $300 which is way too rich for my blood. Good whisky for sure, but a bit overpriced given it’s age. For that kind of money, I can pick up a bottle of Aberlour A’bunadh, a bottle of Bowmore The Darkest, and still have a few sheckles left over.

LimpD: I find that some of the Highland Parks have a quality that I can’t quite put a name to. Maybe it is too much wood or too much iodine, but the flavor is, too me, a bit off-putting. I didn’t find any of that with The Dark. Rather, I found this to be a very approachable and easy drinking whisky (despite the 52% ABV. I don’t have a problem. I can stop at anytime. Or can I???). My only concern is the price. Much like G-LO, I find the $300 price tag a little outside my price range (apparently, the kids need food and clothing). I would rather put that amount into a couple of Japanese bottles or maybe a couple of SMWS bottles or John Milroy bottles as I am more of a volume drinker (and the guys who show up at the Barthenon might not be worthy of a special vintage. If they’re reading this, they know I kid).


Many thanks to Justina Rapala Nielsen of Forte Mare Marketing + Management for sending us this very generous sample!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.