Scotch VS Scotch: Highland Park 18 vs Highland Park 15 Cask Strength

Two posts into 2019 and I have yet to talk about whisky… is everything okay? Don’t worry, don’t worry. The format of SNS hasn’t changed! Thanks to the opportunity I was given to visit Orkney and the Highland Park distillery, I also got a chance to purchase a distillery exclusive single cask bottling. I was going to wait until later this year to dig into it but decided now seemed like a good time to jump into it! Let’s compare Cask #1938 15 year to the classic HP 18 year, shall we?

The COLOR of the 18 is a light straw gold where the 15 is more a caramel drenched golden nugget.

The NOSE of the 18 is much fruitier compared to this 15. This 15 is like rich fudge and both noses carry the typical heathery peat that HP is known for. With water, the 18 loses it’s fruit forward nose and leans into the more of the peat where as the 15 actually get more chocolaty. Very nice.

The PALATE on the 18 is heathery and light with a bit of fruit sugar sweetness, almost a honey drizzled tree fruit. It’s very enjoyable. The 15 actually has a touch of fruit rise to the surface but it’s much more toffee and espresso over a handful of spices. Normally I’d chalk these up to sherry spices but there are one or two very distinct spices in there that I couldn’t identify. I really need to buy a new spice rack. With water, the 18 doesn’t change much at all (which is actually a surprise). The 15 becomes a peated peach and apple mash that my tongue can definitely live with!

The FINISH on the 18 has a bit of cinnamon spice where the 15 at 60.3% is a raucous mess of heat! With water though, the 18 becomes soft and floral and the 15 really just carries the palate further and loses that cask strength edge.

This 15 makes me wish this flavor profile was available from HP more often. Chocolate, peaches, and apple aren’t typical flavors that they’re known for but it would be nice to see it mixed into other aged bottlings. (I can dream, can’t I?!) Have you tried this specific bottling? If you get a chance to head to the distillery soon, take an extra hundred and twenty pounds with you! You’ll be glad you did!

Slainte and have a great weekend!

-Sniff

Haggis, a hundred times, haggis!

Being American, I have come to realize that a number of laws we have were created based on hyperbolic (and often unfounded) fear. America’s founding is littered in the “live and let live” or “don’t tread on me” type mindset but as of late, it seems everyone is trying to tell everyone else how to live, specifically through legislation. With all of this in mind, I’m here to talk about one of the most heinous food bans we have in America…

Haggis.

Banned from import into America in 1971 because it contains sheep lung, haggis is little more than a leftover-sheep-meat-mashup that I’d affectionately compare to scrapple. It has a very similar texture to scrapple but is (in)famous for being served encased in a sheep’s stomach. Once removed from it’s stomach-y packaging, it’s very often prepared in a myriad of ways. Let’s explore some of those ways!

Below, we have haggis making an appearance on nachos in a nifty little pub called “Scotch & Rye” in Inverness.

They also have popcorn haggis…

At this point you’re hopefully thinking “man, oh man, I need some haggis in my life!” but I’m afraid you’re probably thinking “This guy’s gone of the deep end about some Scottish scrapple!” Either way, this haggis inspired train ain’t stoppin’! Let’s head up to Helgi’s in Orkney and see how many more ways we can have it!

Below we’ve got some haggis fondue!

And what’s this? Haggis mac and cheese? I think so!

This next sandwich is known as a Haggis and Whiskey Rarebit Sandwich.

Rarebit (which rightly sounds like rabbit) doesn’t actually contain any rabbit. It’s just a fancy name for a savory melted cheese sauce over bread. The only thing that makes the above sandwich different from a normal rarebit sandwich? You guessed it: HAGGIS. ❀

Continuing the haggis mashup below is a haggis grilled cheese from a tiny coffee shop called Square root cafΓ© in Keith!

You might be thinking “Grilled cheeses are okay but I only love pizza.” Well you’re in luck! That’s right, at Black Isle Bar in Inverness, you can get HAGGIS PIZZA Y’ALL.

This haggis train is slowing and I’m sad to see that but I only spent a week in Scotland this time around so there was only so much time for haggis lol. Below is the most classic way to enjoy haggis. It’s “Haggis, Neeps, and Tatties” which is haggis, rutabaga, and potatoes. Thanks to the Kirkwall hotel in Orkney for the beautiful table setting.

And last but certainly not least, just plain haggis. I actually had planned to have a scotch egg at this spot (The Classroom in Nairn) but alas, they had just taken it off the menu. So a side of haggis had to do.

And there you have it. Hopefully my rabid enthusiasm for this delicious delicacy drives deep the dedication to find good food and enjoy it as many ways as you can. Like whisky, food can be just as interesting and thanks to laws that don’t inhibit the way it’s made, it can be even more interesting than whisky. Wait, there are laws that can inhibit the way it’s made? Ah, welcome back to America.

Distilleries from above…

Annnnndddddd BACK from Scotland! For the second time, I’m sitting at home unpacking my luggage and reminiscing about all of the memories that were just created. From the distillery visits to the friends made to the whiskies shared to the haggis devoured, Scotland was an incredible (but short) time! Luckily, this time around, I ended up taking a drone to Scotland to compliment the slew of pictures I took and I just wanted to share those here before I post them anywhere else. (Granted, if you follow ScotchNSniff on IG, you’ve no doubt seen these in my stories AND the video footage)

The first distillery visited this time around was Highland Park and due to a number of technical difficulties (read: fear of breaking the law), I actually didn’t get any pictures of the distillery from above. Just one lack luster video of the distillery and it’s dunnages before I quickly brought the drone down.

The second distillery visited was Glenrothes. Unfortunately, Glenrothes isn’t open to the public so getting the tour was a hookup but I made sure to take a ton of pictures that can’t usually be taken. Here’s that drone shot:

Gorgeous isn’t it? You can see the still house on the left of the pagoda and the dunnages on the right side in different colored roofs.

The third distillery visited was Macallan and though I had mixed emotions about seeing the new distillery, I’ve come to grips with what it is they’re trying to do as a brand. That’s all I’m going to say about that for now.

The concept of a distillery that matched the rolling hills was accomplished by the design of same people who designed terminal 5 at heathrow in London (and 140 million pounds). It’s definitely overwhelming and a dauting distillery to visit. If you’ve never visited the old distillery, I think you might like this one. Definitely let me know if you’ve visited and how you feel about it.

Next up was anCnoc in the charming area of Knockdhu. It’s a small but fierce distillery. Churning out good tasting whisky with just a few guys running the entire operation. Plus, the distillery manager Gordon is an hilarious human being.

The last distillery visited this time was Balblair! What a ton of fun John McDonald can be when he’s sharing the history of the distillery and where they’re headed now that they’ve switched up their bottlings from vintages to the age statements (less confusing for the customer to calculate ages). Here’s a gorgeous shot of Balblair from the sky.

They’ve got a ton of storage for barrels!

So there you have it! Scotland was a great time and I hope to share more from the trip but for now? Just these few aerial images for your eyes to feast on.

Slainte.

-Sniff