Review: Highland Park 1998 Vintage

I used to be big on travel exclusives. They were rare and unusual and that was enough for me for a few years. After a while though, I realized that for some reason, distillers decide to put lackluster releases into duty free shops. Many releases are 40% ABV and the ones that aren’t still don’t seem to pack a punch. Even the travel exclusive Tun 1401 (Batch 7) is far and away the worst of the 9 batches in my opinion.

While I don’t think there are many travel exclusives worth buying these days, I’m happy to sample them. Highland Park 1998 Vintage is a travel exclusive whisky that I actually almost bought a few years ago but passed on at the last minute.

From Highland Park:

“With an emphasis on first-fill American oak Sherry casks in its maturation, this vintage reveals the smoky side of Highland Park, attributable to the distinctively aromatic peat from Hobbister Moor. The yellow accent of the packaging is inspired by the Orkney sun which, at midsummer, never sets.”

This expression was bottled in 2010, making it 12 years old.

highlandpark1998

Highland Park 1998 Vintage - 40% ABV
Category Notes
Appearance Golden, thin looking. Seems to be of natural color
Nose Fresh fruit, Macintosh apple, light (island) peat and smoke, not very complex.
Taste Light and surprisingly simple. I don’t care what they say, this tastes bourbon barrel-y to me, and refills at that. Not a whole lot of vanilla, but it's there if you take the time to look for it. Some caramel in the background.
Finish Light smoke, fruity and pleasant.
Overall Thoughts This is one of the lightest and simplest HPs I've ever encountered. I didn't dare add water to this one for fear that it would completely kill the only sample of this I have. This one grows on you in a weird way during each sip, but it's too little too late. I'm not a huge fan of the nose, the taste is underwhelming, but the finish is actually pretty decent. It actually reminds me a bit like a peatier Jura 10 Year. I hear this is the smokiest of the three expressions released in 2010 (compared to the 1994 and 1990 vintages) so it should be no surprise that I'm not a huge fan of this. Still, I'm glad I got to give it a try and now I know that I made the right call on not picking up a full 70cls of this one.
Total Score 74/100