Whisky Advocate

Review: Highland Park 1970 Vintage

September 16th, 2010

This one, part of the “Orcadian Vintage Series,” is not exactly in everyone’s budget (okay, it’s in very few people’s budget), and it’s not even being imported to the U.S., but I do enjoy it very much.

Highland Park, 1970 vintage, 48%, £2,250
This limited edition bottling consists of a marriage of both European and American oak. Still lively for its age, and beautifully balanced. A mouthful of golden fruit (sultana, pineapple upside down cake, tangerine, over-ripe nectarine) balanced by soothing, creamy vanilla. A peppering of dried spice, chamomile tea, toasted oak, cigar box, and subtle smoke round out the palate. Soft and seductive.

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 94

32 Responses to “Review: Highland Park 1970 Vintage”

  1. B.J. Reed says:


  2. Luke says:

    B.J., “Yum!” indeed, but STG£2,250.00 worth?!

    John, could you recommend a similar independent HP bottling from this year?

    Also, is there an age statement on this? “1970 Vintage” doesn’t necessarily mean 40YO.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      Usually the bottling date is close within at least a year or two of the release date, Luke– Though of course it doesn’t always work that way and with old vintage bottles it can be hard to figure out the age. I’d guess it’s probably close to 40 yo.

    • John Hansell says:

      Can’t help you with a comp Indie bottle. Sorry.

  3. Red_Arremer says:

    Looks like your samples are pulling out of their slump– It’s always gratifying to read ones thoughts on a whisky he loves. How many more these upcoming reviews are going to be in the 90’s?

    • John Hansell says:

      Of the whiskies (and whiskeys) that I have reviewed and not yet published here, I think there’s one more brand breaking the 90s. It’s refreshing to see some really nice whiskies hitting the market.

      On the flipside, I have a 70-something whisky queued up too.

  4. Daron says:

    I was just curious if you always (most of the time) drink out of The Glencairn nosing glass? Say if your just at home enjoying a favorite that your familiar with, do you still use a nosing glass or something else? Love the magazine although it does cause me to call around every liquor store in town at times all gitty to track down a specific bottle.

    • John Hansell says:

      I have a variety of glassware, depending on my mood and purpose.

      • Scribe says:

        John, if you ever are low on review samples and looking for a topic for future posts here, I’d be most interested in the different glassware you use…and what guides you to use one over the other at certain times. I’m a creature of habit — I just use the Glencairn or, on occasion, a Riedel glass for Scotch, one of two I received as a gift. I’d be interested in learning more! Thanks!

  5. woodisgood says:

    >>”I think there’s one more brand breaking the 90s.”<<

    Hmmm . . . can't help but guess it might be the Redbreast 15 . . . Isn't it supposed to be coming to our shores soon?

    • Texas says:

      Now that I look at John’s list I suspect the 70’s will be the Canadian Mist..even though John doesn’t seem to be a huge Laphroaig fan I am going to guess that he will give the Triple Wood a 91..

    • Luke says:

      woodisgood, there are various batches of Redbreast 15 which we in the Irish Whiskey Society have made a point of tracking (by serial number). The batches are listed in this post:

      Which of the later ones is landing in the States is unknown to us at this time.

      The 1st and 2nd batches are genuine Classics whilst the later ones, although marvellous, are slightly more “Woodeny”.

      Ye are in for a treat when RB15 lands in the states.

      We look forward to John’s review of this batch.

    • Scribe says:

      I saw the Redbreast 15 at Bayway in NJ…would be most interested in early review of that, given I love the “regular” one!

  6. Jeff H says:

    Wow, this sounds amazing. Thanks for the notes! I’m glad their more attainable bottlings taste so good…makes it a little less painful that most of us will never try one of these older vintages.

    One question, though…you talk about HP doing marriages of bourbon and sherry casks, but everything I’ve read on the HP web site, and seen in Gerry Tosh videos, indicates that they ONLY use sherry casks in their OB releases. They do use a combination of European and American oak, though. Are you sure they’re using some bourbon casks in this release?


    • John Hansell says:

      Regarding your second paragraph, yes you are correct with this bottling. My press release states that this bottling is a marriage of European and American oak cask. There is no mention that the American oak contained bourbon. I corrected the post accordingly. Good catch!

      But, when HP ran their single cask promotions to retailers several years ago, I tasted samples from sherry casks (of varying degrees of sherry influence) and bourbon casks. (There has also been many indie bottlings in bourbon casks.)

      • Jeff H says:

        Thanks for the update! I believe you that there is some HP sitting in a warehouse somewhere in bourbon casks. And a one-off release like this would be a good place for them to use some of those. It would be interesting to try one of those indie bottlings!

        I just also knew that it’s a common misconception that they use bourbon casks in their regular releases. HP 15 being a good example of where that mistake is often made.

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