Friday, 21 February 2014

Old Age Puncheon - Part IV

Highland Park 40yo - 48.3%

How much does a kidney fetch?
The last, although somewhat late, stop on the OAP bus route brings us out of the realm of affordability and nearer to the edge of economic destruction. For most of us mortals this is a fantasy dram. Unobtainable enough when first released, this now commands well into four figures wherever you're lucky enough to find one. As such, I'm going to concentrate merely on the taste experience and try to keep myself from sinking into depression at the thought of never being able to try this beautiful, beautiful dram ever, ever, ever again.

Bottled at 48.3% this is also the highest strength of the 40 year old whiskies I've tried in this series; an indication of good cask management perhaps with a possible nod to the Orcadian climate. Truly a worthy finale to the series, right? Right?

In a word, complex. Honey and beeswax. Soft, supple leather and old cigar boxes. A wee alcoholic nip; quite a punch for an old fella. It's fair to say that age hasn't totally tamed this spirit.

Water uncovers candied oranges, rich sherry and a hint of chocolate. Traces of pine needles and old libraries. Incredibly evocative.

Sharp and heathery at first with a lingering smokiness. Bold and punchy with a savoury complexity that sweetens given a little time. Miniscule amount of soapiness and a robust white pepper hum nearing the finish.

Water brings a creaminess and a buttered toast vibe. Highland heather and beach bonfires. Playful spices, orange zest and sugared almonds.

Long. Very long. Perfectly balanced with the characteristic smokiness so evident in the 18yo but flanked with a sweet meatiness that isn't a million miles from a good Mortlach.

Water showcases more of the sweetness but maintains balance as the mouth dries. Oaky, smoky and beautifully long (still!).

What can I say? It exhibits a complexity the likes of which I have rarely experienced. Every sip reveals a new slant; every sniff a surprise. Ignoring the price and lack of availability, the only bad thing about this dram is that it's finished and I can't afford a bottle.

Grade: A
Spankingly good. Bastards.

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