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Highland Park - not as good as it used to be?

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Highland Park - not as good as it used to be?

Postby Marvin » Mon Oct 23, 2006 9:18 pm

I got a bottle of Highland Park 12 seven years ago, it came in a round cylinder tin. It tasted fantastic and I remember I finished it in about a week. Three years ago I got another bottle, it was in a cardboad box and it did not seen to taste as good at all. In fact i only finished it about 3 weeks ago!

Question is - has anyone else noticed this dip in quality, or did I get a bad batch?
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Postby Thesh » Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:28 am

That's what I have heard about every single malt on this forum, although mostly compared with drams from 30 years ago. I wonder if it is actually true.

Maybe bourbon is the only whisk(e)y that's improving with time, or maybe we are just kidding ourselves and remembering it being different than it was.
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Postby sgsoloplayer » Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:44 am

I'm only 20 years old and very new to the Scotch scene (although not bourbon) so I have no idea what older scotch tasted like. I do, however, believe that scotch right now is wonderful, whether it has become better or worse over time. I find Highland Park to be one of my favorites, if not my favorite.

I kind of think we remember things being better or worse than they actually were at the time. Perhaps fond or ugly memories cloud our idea of how much we actually liked the whisky. In any case, I love whisky and seem to appreciate it more and more as I delve into this hobby.
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Postby Di Blasi » Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:44 am

Marvin, you're awesome! You're on this forum 2 days and already almost 50 posts, getting everybody going with all sorts of exciting topics! Keep it up, get our "whisky" flowing!
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Postby kallaskander » Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:27 am

Hi there,

but it is only natural that the standard bottlings of malts should have changed. The crisis in the whisky industry which began in the late 1970s and found a sad high in 1983 with the closure of about 30 Scottish malt distilleries makes itself really felt today.
Not only were there closures the whole industry reduced production because the whisky produced could not be sold.
Any master distiller of that time who would have insisted that he would need aged malts in 30 years time e.g today would have had serious words with the distillery manager. All standard bottlings lack the really old casks nowadays which give volume depth sophisitcation complexity and colour in the case of aged sherry casks.
What there is of aged casks is sold as single barrel bottlings for huge summs of money.
The window of a 12 year OB standard used to be 12 - 30 years and today probably is 12 - 17 or thereabouts.
That changes the OB standards for sure.

Greetings
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Postby Drrich1965 » Tue Oct 24, 2006 11:27 am

kallaskander wrote:Hi there,

but it is only natural that the standard bottlings of malts should have changed. The crisis in the whisky industry which began in the late 1970s and found a sad high in 1983 with the closure of about 30 Scottish malt distilleries makes itself really felt today.
Not only were there closures the whole industry reduced production because the whisky produced could not be sold.
Any master distiller of that time who would have insisted that he would need aged malts in 30 years time e.g today would have had serious words with the distillery manager. All standard bottlings lack the really old casks nowadays which give volume depth sophisitcation complexity and colour in the case of aged sherry casks.
What there is of aged casks is sold as single barrel bottlings for huge summs of money.
The window of a 12 year OB standard used to be 12 - 30 years and today probably is 12 - 17 or thereabouts.
That changes the OB standards for sure.

Greetings
kallaskander


Thanks for the informative post. Looks like some of the expresions of Ardbeg Oggy being the exception (there may be others), in that it contains some very old malt.
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Postby Di Blasi » Tue Oct 24, 2006 12:23 pm

Yes, thanks for all that good information! Like you mention kallaskander, the effects of closed distilleries we feel today, just like today will not be felt for 20 years to come.
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Postby kallaskander » Tue Oct 24, 2006 1:21 pm

Hi there,

afaik only the 2003 the first released Uigi contained malts from 1975, Drrich1965. What exactly was in the 2004 bottling I don´t know, with the 2005 bottling they stopped to give even the year of bottling, whatever that means.
The 1975 casks were the last it is said from this year.
Even if there were casks from the late 1970s used for the 2004 and 2005 bottling of Uigi they should be gone by now and as we know, production was reduced in the late 1970s and Ardbeg closed from 1981 to 1989.

Greetings
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Postby Drrich1965 » Tue Oct 24, 2006 2:58 pm

kallaskander wrote:Hi there,

afaik only the 2003 the first released Uigi contained malts from 1975, Drrich1965. What exactly was in the 2004 bottling I don´t know, with the 2005 bottling they stopped to give even the year of bottling, whatever that means.
The 1975 casks were the last it is said from this year.
Even if there were casks from the late 1970s used for the 2004 and 2005 bottling of Uigi they should be gone by now and as we know, production was reduced in the late 1970s and Ardbeg closed from 1981 to 1989.

Greetings
kallaskander


More good info..Thanks..Regardless of what it contains, I love the 2004 Oogy. Any thoughts on what malts may have suffered the most due to a lack of older casks? (he says to all whisky gurus out there :wink: )
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Postby kallaskander » Tue Oct 24, 2006 3:28 pm

Hi there,

that is a good one. Make it a new thread.

Greetings
kallaskander
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Re: Highland Park - not as good as it used to be?

Postby corbuso » Tue Oct 24, 2006 3:39 pm

Marvin wrote:I got a bottle of Highland Park 12 seven years ago, it came in a round cylinder tin. It tasted fantastic and I remember I finished it in about a week. Three years ago I got another bottle, it was in a cardboad box and it did not seen to taste as good at all. In fact i only finished it about 3 weeks ago!

Question is - has anyone else noticed this dip in quality, or did I get a bad batch?


I think the question about the whisky produced 10 or 20 years ago has been extensively debated in this forum and I will not continue to talk about that here.
Also, sometimes we got the impression that older bottles were better thant before. It might also be that the HP 12 YO made a strong impression on you the first time you tried and by comparison to other whiskies. Now that you might have tried quite a few more whiskies, it does not stand out from the other whiskies. Also, you taste might change with time.
It is not necesseraly the whisky that has changed, but it might be also your "experience" with other whiskies and changes of your own olfactory-gustative preferences.
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Postby corbuso » Tue Oct 24, 2006 3:48 pm

kallaskander wrote:Hi there,

afaik only the 2003 the first released Uigi contained malts from 1975, Drrich1965. What exactly was in the 2004 bottling I don´t know, with the 2005 bottling they stopped to give even the year of bottling, whatever that means.
The 1975 casks were the last it is said from this year.
Even if there were casks from the late 1970s used for the 2004 and 2005 bottling of Uigi they should be gone by now and as we know, production was reduced in the late 1970s and Ardbeg closed from 1981 to 1989.

Greetings
kallaskander


And if I am not wrong, they started in 2005 (even probably before) to buy back casks from the 1970s...
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Re: Highland Park - not as good as it used to be?

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:28 pm

corbuso wrote:....... sometimes we got the impression that older bottles were better thant before. It might also be that the HP 12 YO made a strong impression on you the first time you tried and by comparison to other whiskies. Now that you might have tried quite a few more whiskies, it does not stand out from the other whiskies. Also, you taste might change with time.
It is not necesseraly the whisky that has changed, but it might be also your "experience" with other whiskies and changes of your own olfactory-gustative preferences.


This is something I was thinking too and find it interesting and quite a relavent statement .........
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Postby Marvin » Tue Oct 24, 2006 11:02 pm

The thing is though I really did enjoy the first bottle but the more recent one did nothing for me and lasted 3 years. I dont really drink much scotch and havent really had any others in that time.
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Postby Malt Dog » Thu Jan 04, 2007 12:50 am

Ah, such is the charm of the annual production runs of single malt whisky -
in that subtle to dramatic changes can occur from year to year, for better or worse, just like the annual vintages of fine wine (verses the unwavering consistency of homogenized blended whiskies).

Your tastes may not have changed as much as you think. It could very well be the particular year of the bottle you own.

One good example is the standard 10yo from the tiny Edradour Distillery. This is a delicious little malt, oozing with rich caramel and rum raisin flavours, so creamy as to be almost chewy. Most of the time. It is such a small operation it is bound to have inconsistencies. As such, I have also sampled bottlings that were quite weak and light in flavour; a thin, transparent, uncomplex cereal grain, some even with a hint of that dreaded Midlands’ “minty-soap” palate. I have had similar experiences with the revered Talisker, where one particular year the usual zingy spiciness had somehow receded with the Loch Harport tide, revealing a pleasant if rather simple barley malt center. When this happens you can simply say, “There is always next year!” Such is the charm of single malt whiskies.

On the flip side of things, with the epiphany in malt whisky’s popularity over last 15 years, improvements in the quality of single malt offerings has been noted throughout the industry, even from a number of erstwhile primarily “straight to blends” distilleries. A few examples from the short list might include:

Achentoshen – the standard 10yo is much better today than the “Lowlands firewater” of the mid-1980s.

Aberlour – some may say their superb A’bundh natural cask-strength bottling is merely a “re-release’ from 1892. Perhaps, but it wasn’t readily available even ten years ago. I would guess it is already among their best selling newer expressions.

Dalmore – substantially improved from even ten years ago; their standard 12yo is a much more balanced malt with now even a lovely sherry finish. (Although I can’t say as much for their Cigar Malt, every succeeding bottle I’ve tried has been less pleasant.)

Caol Ila – the new official distillery-labeled 12yo and 18yo bottlings are wonderful, very high quality expressions, infinitively more palatable than many older independent bottlings that often brought out the worst in this heavily peated Islay.

Oban – the latest bottlings sampled seem altogether more enjoyable and intriguing than when my father used to keep an ongoing house bottle of Oban in his duck cabinet throughout the 1980s and ’90s.

So, as said earlier, your tastes may not have changed as much as you think. It could very well be the particular year of the bottle you own.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:04 am

Some good points well made, Doggie, although I'm sure some will dispute one or another of your contentions.

There is another phenomenon at play sometimes, I think. If you make a consistent whisky over a period of time, a lot of folks will try it, and out of all of them, a few will think it the finest drink ever made. When change occurs, as inevitably it does, those people take umbrage--their favorite malt has been messed with. It might even, in head-to-head tasting, seem superior to a more "objective" drinker, but it is no longer what the afficionado thought of as his favorite. There is, therefore, a perpetually alienated segment of the market, people who think things are not as good as they used to be, and can cite specific examples.

I find your take refreshing, and more realistic.
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Postby Mustardhead » Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:43 am

I agree with Mr Tattie Heid, it is a very refreshing approach.

I am as guilty as anyone else of complaining about my beloved Laphroiag 10 not being as tasty as it used to be. Others comment on Lagavulin or Talisker not being the same...

But the point about improved malts is well made.

Auchentoshan. I agree with you. It is now a nice creamy lunchtime drink which I can happily sample. It used to be the sort of stuff you needed to keep in a brown paper bag.

Aberlour 10 is another. It used to be a bit rough around the edges, a nice tasty everyday dram but not perfect Now it is just as cheap but much smoother, the poor man's Macallan.

Cynics might grumble at the use of NAS malts and younger releases but some of them are wonderful. Laphroiag Quarter Cask makes up for the perceived change in the 10, for example. I think the distillers are just getting better at what they do and while it looks like it is working the bean-counters are letting them produce some good whiskies, not just the standard 10 and 12 bottlings at 40%
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:03 am

Not to mention the burgeoning choices available to us, far more than ever before, and more and more unchillfiltered, uncolored, etc. If Glen Googly ain't what it used to be, there's a zillion other things to try. Hell, I don't think I could even read Murray's Bible in a year.
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Postby TheLaddie » Thu Jan 04, 2007 2:18 am

To be honest I've not had an OB of Highland Park for a few years now. The IBs I've had have all been excellent.

I'll have to get an OB in before too long and see if I agree...
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Postby dram_time » Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:55 pm

Just drinking a Highland Park 12 right now. It’s the newly packaged bottle. Only a few drams into the bottle, but I do prefer Scapa to HP at the moment. The HP is very nice, but it seems lacking something. I am sure it will improve as I get into the bottle, only opened it tonight, but there does seem to be a lot more flavours in the Scapa. For me any way.

The last time I had HP was a few years ago, and to honest I can not remember what it was like!!

Dt
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 09, 2007 8:58 pm

I have recently tried the MMcD 11y HP and it was pretty good.
I do like HP but it is also a long time since I tried the 12, until WL last year when I attended the HP Masterclass.

My impression:

The 25y was fantastic and the 30y was even better!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:26 pm

I thought the 25 superior to the 30, and I am mystified that anyone would find Scapa more flavorful than HP...but the world's still spinning, isn't it?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:32 pm

Mr. T,
maybe that's just my own taste again, but the 30 was unbelievably good when I tried it (immediately after the 25).

As for Scapa, I heard so many good reports about it on this forum that I tried the OB 14y (either last year or late 2005) and was very disappointed. I found it watery, weak in flavour and just not a pleasant experience.

I have recently tried the G&M (NOT "CC") 1993 and found it to be a quite excellent dram. So good that I used it in one of tastings and also in my Whisky & Food "Gourmet" evening where it was served with a chocolate dessert platter.
This 1993 has a very distinct taste of chocolate which turns to vanilla with a drop of water.

A very good dram.
But better than HP?
Probably yes, better than the HP12.

MT
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Postby lbacha » Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:37 pm

Malt Dog wrote:
Aberlour – some may say their superb A’bundh natural cask-strength bottling is merely a “re-release’ from 1892. Perhaps, but it wasn’t readily available even ten years ago. I would guess it is already among their best selling newer expressions.



I have had samples from a couple different 1960's bottles of the 8yr old Aberlours that came in the square bottles. The taste was almost exactly what you get from A'bundh without the burn from it being cask strength. These were vintage bottles, (at least the ones I had 64,65 &66) The casks used must have been great because at 8yrs they were great.

I don't think distillery managers have the ability to pick and choose the best casks like they use to do for some of these older bottles.

Len
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Postby The Fachan » Tue Jan 09, 2007 9:45 pm

Ibacha,


I would disagree, more and more attention is being paid to the quality of the wood in the industry at the moment.
I know of a least two companies where the production Director and his assistant will travel to Jerez and Kentucky with their coopers to look at the wood.
Distillery managers take no part in choosing the barrels, their job is to produce the new make spirit. The blender will decide on the barrel to fulfil his requirements how ever many years down the line.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:39 pm

Malt-Teaser wrote:Mr. T,
maybe that's just my own taste again, but the 30 was unbelievably good when I tried it (immediately after the 25).


MT, I should say that I've only had one dram of the 30, and I'd certainly be more than happy to have a bottle of it for a fair trial! I did quite like it, although I found it rather dry and woody. But the 25 is one of the very tops in my book.
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Postby lbacha » Wed Jan 10, 2007 12:03 am

I'll take the 18 yr old any day. I think it rounds out all the rough little corners the 12 has (what few there are). I think the 25 is a different beast and havn't had enough of it to make a good judgement.

I do have a 35 yr old OB single cask that I'm interested in opening up one day.

Len
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Jan 10, 2007 1:39 pm

The 30yo is really good but Only just on the right side of 30. Any longer and I think the wood would just kill it.
I agree with TH. The 25 is a quite wonderful dram just now (50.7% release).
The 18 is IMHO best value and a top drop but if pushed, I think I'd go for the 25 just now.
I agree that the 18 and 25 aredifferent beast and I see it as comparing Mozart and Bach. Both geniuses in their own right but somehow the dignity and solemnity of Bach slightly shades Mozart.
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