Way back in December of 2017, Limpd, @SamSpeers (of Twitter and #WhiskyFabric fame), and Yours Truly took part in a WhiskyCast Tasting Panel with none other than Mr. WhiskyCast himself, Mark Gillespie. During this pre-Christmas tasting, we sampled three whiskies: Oban 14; The Glenburgie 15 from the Ballantine’s Single Malt Series; and the 18-year-old Highland Park Full Volume which is the subject of today’s review.
As is usually the case whenever we participate in a tasting panel with Mark, we drank some fine whisky, had a few laughs, and were once again reminded that there are no wrong answers when it comes to whisky tasting notes, but there sure are some weird ones. Weird ones? Yes, weird ones. Lemme explain…
While most of us refer to things that we can taste and smell when discussing our impressions of a particular dram, it turns out that some us, i.e. Mr. Speers, also experience shapes and colors whilst evaluating a spirit. I’m talking…
Rhombuseses (Rhombi? Rhumbas?)
Burnt Sienna (a personal fave of mine)
Amber (not to be confused with Amber)
And maybe even violet (no, Sam didn’t turn violet, Violet!)
If anyone else had referenced a sphere or the color taupe during a whisky tasting, I’d have shaken my head, gathered my things, and gone the hell home lickety split. But this is Speers we’re talking about here. Shapes, colors, and whisky are par for the course with that guy.
Now that we have all of that out of the way, let’s see how we felt about Full Volume the second time around, but before we get to our re-review, here’s what Highland Park has to say about their Full Volume expression:
Full Volume is a perfect illustration of the fine skills of our Master Whisky Maker, ensuring that every individual wave of flavour finds its perfect place in the beautifully harmonised final spirit.
For musicians, amps and equalisers maintain critical balance at high volume by fine-tuning musical frequencies – at Highland Park, our Master Whisky Maker, Gordon Motion, does a similar job.
Full Volume was created using 100% ex-bourbon casks rather than our traditional sherry-seasoned ones. During 1999, a combination of 481 casks – 200 litre barrels and 250 litre hogsheads – were filled at strengths of between 63.6% and 63.7%. The whisky was filtered at just over 4oC and delivers flavours of creamy vanilla and sweet citrus fruits from the bourbon casks, balanced by Highland Park’s characteristic aromatic smokiness.
And now for our impressions of this whisky…
- Appearance: Golden yellow.
- ABV: 47.2%
- Limpd: Vapory, with a medicinal, astringent quality. Vanilla, salt, heather and a bit of peat or pipe tobacco smoke.
- G-LO: Whoa! I may have singed a nose hair on that one. Let’s let this settle down for a few minutes. 5 minutes later… That’s better. Now I’m getting a pleasant bit of vanilla, light brown sugar, baked apple, a bit of tobacco, and some cinnamon.
- Limpd: The blast of alcohol is powerful but not so powerful as to render it a single note. The heat gives way to some woody notes, some brine and a little vanilla with some cane sugar sweetness. As we approach the finish, some smokiness makes an appearance. The dry finish is long with some sweetness and pleasant warming heat.
- G-LO: Mmm! This whisky is right up my alley. Lightly oily and spicy/sweet at the start. Warms up in the middle with some tobacco and baked apple making an appearance. A bit of smoke in the finish with all of the spicy and sweet notes coming together. The aftertaste is somewhat astringent with lingering baked apple sweetness that has a mild cinnamon bite.
Limpd: I liked it when I was fortunate enough to try it on the WhiskyCast Tasting Panel and I liked it a whole lot now. I found it to be flavorful with good balance, and I really like the blend of sugars and smoke. With a little water, the astringent note fades to the background and the flavors intensify, i.e. I got a little more of the sugars (iced animal crackers), more vanilla and more of the brine. Well done!
G-LO: It makes me very happy to report that Highland Park’s Full Volume is as yummy as I remember it the second time around. It has a delicious blend of flavors and totally lives up to its name. This is just a tasty dram with a healthy dose of oomph. Full volume indeed! Spinal Tap would be proud.