Review #95: Highland Park 2005 Octave

Vancouver is fun to visit, but there is a 90% chance it will rain at some point and then one needs an indoors activity contingency plan. For us, this typically involves liquor stores. In particular, I was very keen on going to a store to pick up some Weller, since it’s damn near impossible to procure them in the San Francisco Bay Area unless you go secondary.

You know you’re desperate though when you’re buying liquor in Vancouver: British Columbia’s Liquor Distribution Branch (LBD) is notorious for basically running a monopoly on spirits distribution – resulting in a 167% to 170% markup on mainstream spirits. [This article is particularly great on the LBD and its archaic attitude on liquor, with even a rule that only men could serve liquor and women could only enter or drink in a pub when accompanied by a male partner surviving into the 1970s]

The long intro is to say that we ended up at Legacy Liquors in Vancouver while it was raining. I wanted to go there to ogle at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society bottles they had there (almost thinking of picking up the Peat Faerie) but we asked around, and they recommended the store’s selection of a Highland Park. Since we’ve been finding a lot of excellent independent bottles of HP (HP sold a lot of casks to fundraise its sister distillery Macallan’s gorgeous new digs), we picked it up to try. No regrets on this at all.


Highland Park – Distilled in 2005
Bottled by Legacy Liquor Store, Vancouver

  • Score - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10

Tasting Notes

Nose. Almonds, hazelnut coffee, vanilla nougat, sweet BBQ glaze, toffee. Salt water, caramel, tofee, brine Palate. Caramel, salted mesquite, honey, ends with cloves. Concentrated caramel breakfast cereal. Heather honey smoke on the back palate. Some solid tannins mid palate Rich oily mouthfeel Just some tingle of alcohol.  Summary Overall: 8.5/10. Phenomenal. Highly recommend. It’s a shame there’s only 75 bottles… Bought for: I think it was around 120 CAD in Vancouver.  

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Additional Information

  • ABV: 54.1%
  • Age: 12 years (bottled in 2018)
  • Cask: Oak casks for 12 years and 6 months in an Octave cask
  • Bottle: 21/75

About Octave

  • Octave is an experiment by Duncan Taylor, in which a smaller cask (e.g. quarter cask) is used for finishing the whisky.
  • Their site has interesting “before” and “after” tasting notes of “octivation”, including Girvan 2007’s before description of “citrusy, lemon peel, fresh, malty, apple skins” and after of “sugared almonds, grassy, juicy oak, cherries, and marzipan”

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