Such Sweet Sorrow

I’d love to claim that my recent focus on mid-range malts was born out of a fiercely democratic desire to explore the more accessible areas of this potentially posh pursuit… but it’s no such thing. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m a tippler of limited means at present, and will probably remain so for a good few months to come. Nonetheless, I’ve greatly enjoyed the bottles I’ve been buying of late, and feel I’ve learned a lot about my own tastes and prejudices by being constrained in my choices. So I’ll leave the reviews of £30+ bottles to Captain Cashbags for the moment and continue to do what I do best – drinking affordable malts in succession at a reasonable rate!

Last week’s “investment” was the Highland Park 12 year old you may well have seen on the shelf of your local gastro-pub. I’d had a dram of this at some place in Soho with Mad Dog a month or so ago, and we were both quite taken with it, so when I saw it in the offers section of Oddbins I was in there like a shot. I was on my way to lunch a week ago last Sunday when I made my purchase and by late afternoon half the bottle had been enjoyed by a group of us in a post-prandial “tasting” session. It was a perfect all-rounder for the occasion, providing pleasure to novices and pseuds alike. Highland Park’s honeyish character followed on nicely from the balsamic vinegar dressing of our roast veg, and the ladies commented on how drinkable it was with just a splash of water. I was particularly taken with the sharp citrus notes on the finish, distinctive and pineapple-esque, perfect to mourn the death of Summer and the onset of Autumn.

I continued to enjoy the Highland Park 12 until last night (when it rudely ran out) although I did become increasingly aware of just how sweet it is when sipping it alone. I had another bottle of Balvenie Double Wood on the go, a whisky I had previously considered a little on the girly side (as sherry casks tend to be), but even that was butch compared to HP12. All in all, I’m glad I bought it, but I’m conscious of the fact that the pleasure I derived form the Highland Park was very context sensitive; the lingering impression is somewhat sickly, and even tonight’s purchase (another bottle of Clynelish 14) seems overly sweet in its wake. I find myself yearning for something a bit more uncompromising, a bit of island rough, perhaps, to breathe peat smoke and iodine into my sinuses and maybe slip me a Fisherman’s Friend…

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