Notes: This latest addition to the core expressions uses twice as many first fill sherry casks than in the classic Highland Park 12 year old resulting in a naturally darker, richer flavour. Dark Origins is a combination of 80% first fill sherry casks (of which 60% is European oak and 20% American) and 20% refill sherry.
Colour: Rich early autumn gold.
Nose: If you’re used to the 12yo’s nose then this is kind of similar, yet it’s on steroids… It’s fuller, thicker and has noticeably more sherry influence. If you’re not familiar then there’s a malty heathery goodness here, slight highland peat smoke hints and a fruit and nut backdrop from the sherry casks.
Palate: Although it’s fairly smooth it introduces itself to your palate with a slight tingle and a pinch of spice, before covering it with fairly thick velvety oils which lead to a rich malty sweetness.
Finish: Warming on your chest with a lingering sweet spicy gentle smokiness.
Water: None particularly needed, but if you do it releases a bit more malt and coal tar cask smoke. It sweetens it up a touch more lowering the spices a bit and makes the finish slightly less tannin-lead. I quite like it with a wee drop of H2O.
Thoughts: There’s no age statement here, but that aside it’s a worthy step up from the 12yo, although is it worth around twice the price? I’m not totally convinced on that, but it is very good, and to have the extra %ABV, no chill filtering and sherry goodness it certainly becomes worth much of the extra.
Available: The Green Welly Stop – £57 (cheapest I could find at the time of review).
Highland Park 12 Year Old (40%) vs. Dark Origins (46.8%)
The 12yo is lighter in colour, an early summers day vs. a rich early autumn evening. The 12yo is quite malty and a little nutty on the nose, the Origins is slightly more caramelly and sweet from the sherry which has dialled the malt back a small notch. The 12yo is very easy on the palate, partly due to the 40% abv. It’s sweet and easy; lightly oily and has a reasonable finish. Origins is quite a bit thicker feeling and sweeter but with a fair pinch of spice and with a longer finish, and a tiny bit more tannin at the end (smoothed out with water however).
For my review of the 12 year old, please go here.
Thanks to Highland Park for the sample.