Highland Park & White Lyan Tweet Tasting

9th July 2014

Another day, another Tweet Tasting, through Steve Rush (@thewhiskywire), but now for something entirely different.  Highland Park and uber cool bar White Lyan (@whitelyan), who are based in Hoxton Street, London, with cocktails so cool they hurt and don’t even get me started on the science bit, it’s seriously too geeky and clever for me, have sent an intriguing box of goodies including Highland Park 12yo and a box of various potions, or cocktails as they are otherwise known.  With a super strict list of instructions that are to be followed to the letter!

If that isn’t enough fun for you we were also joined by the always knowledgeable and fun Daryl Haldane (@DarylHaldane) from Highland Park.   All the cocktails we tried tonight were created just for us, oh and the Tweet Tasting of course, but you can see what these clever chaps have already achieved and try them here.  The #HPLyanTT was used, so please check out what everyone else thought too.

Highland Park 12

The expression that started it all for Highland Park. First introduced in 1979, the 12 year old is at the very heart of our core range and demonstrates rich, well balanced malty tones, with the subtle floral smoke which makes Highland Park such a distinctive single malt whisky.

Nose :

A crunchy yet soft biscuit note and then crushed digestives with butter, melted together with some honey sweetness.  Next comes fresh dew covered grass and newborn lambs with the gentle peat smoke starting to come in.  There’s a sweet but robust note, like sweet potatoes cooked over a campfire & toasted marshmallows

Taste :

Fresh orange, honeysuckle, soft stewed apples & overripe pear poached in white wine, drizzled in honey then kicked in dirt.  Dark bitter chocolate & buttered crumpets, wet tents & malted milk biscuits.  Still light and floral, but the smoke lingers.  As it spends longer in the glass, breathing and living it continues to evolve.  The gentle smoke, much like an irate pony starts kicking harder! Lighter fluid on fennel, & plenty of dry charred wood.  Drying & smooth

Birth

Highland Park 12yo coupled with Raspberry & Cranberry Cordial, Bay Leaf, Lime Distillate and Acid, no really you read that correctly ACID, oh and frozen for good measure too!  Stick with me kids we are in for a bumpy ride and something new, the notes aren’t as structure for this, but they do give you a feel for it all!

This is seriously good, smoky and sour, feeling the lime and cranberry bring such a sour edge, it turns your mouth into a swimming pool and your tongue into the highest diving board.  Drinking this straight out of the pouch is fun and made people feel like a kid, or an astronaut, I loved that I can type with the pouch hanging out of my mouth!  A second tasting brings in the herbal meatier notes and  I love the strong herbal & slightly salted, meaty robustness that comes through with the smoke once the fruits fade a little, this cocktail is seriously good and it just keeps on getting better, I don’t know what I like the most, the sweet, the sour, or smoke.

Youth

Highland Park 12yo coupled with Cocchi Americano (nope I don’t know either), Crème de Cacao, Lemon Distillate, Bitter Apple Tonic, Citric Acid & Bi Carb of Soda.  Ok so what can I tell you?  Well there is a lot of science stuff again, I am mainly going to skip that, but what I will tell you is that this came in two separate bottles and when you mixed the two….boom! Bubbles.  I liked this a lot.

Wow this one is unusual all, ear wax and sherbet!  Yeah I know what you are thinking but relax, it is my ear wax I’m talking about!  This is drying and really sour, with a definite vegetable note maybe even a hint of decay, before the lemon kicks in & changes it completely, lifting it just as you think you know what it’s all about.

I love the Bi Carb, which not only adds the bubbles but also gives the cocktail a bit of a Cinder Toffee edge, and I think that’s where the bitterness is for me, that burnt sugar hit.  There’s something else though and I am waiting for inspiration to hit me, ooh I’ve finally got what I’ve been missing, it has a Disperin taste for me (you know dispersible aspirin), crossed with those fizzy Vitamin C tablets, this is seriously moreish.

Adult

Highland Park 12yo, Toasted Pumpkin Seeds, Croissant Syrup and Mixed Citrus Liqueur.  Now this one is the most confusing of all for me, I could not decide (and maybe still haven’t decided if I like this one), I’ve pondered why and I think I know, it’s all in the nose for me.  Overwhelmingly for me is decay, I’ve gone backwards and forwards but it really is the first thing I pick out.  Now this is not always a bad note, neither does it denote a bad drink, but I am struggling with this one somewhat.

Totally undecided, one minute I don’t like the nose the next I think I do, it’s very stagnant water & rancid butter with a heavy hit of decay.  Once it opens up the sweetness is really starting to come through helping to lift the nose, there is sage, ferns and mud to be found.  The palate, is buttery and soft, sugared doughnuts, vanilla, and then bang, gunpowder and smoke as the HP 12 makes itself known.

I think this is one that will sort the men from the boys, I’m realising I’m very much a girl I think, but it really is interesting, I almost have a morbid fascination with it, I keep trying it, I think there are some drying Asian spices, cardamom I think.   Do I like it?  I’ll have to take the coward’s way out with an undecided on this one.  Interesting cocktail fact though is that Croissant Syrup is what it says on the tin, they literally blend croissants and add a stabiliser and voila there you have it.

Twilight

Highland Park 12yo coupled with Pear and Raspberry Distillates, Peychauds, Apricot and Liquorice Root.  Not this one is to be consumed hot, so it’s a 1:3 ratio and it is delicious.  I can’t even begin to find the words to tell you just how much I enjoyed this.  As soon as you add the water, oh the smell is amazing!! There are lovely musty peaches, soft sticky treacle, unsalted butter, and that aniseed kick.  The apricot rules the palate, but then in comes soft grainy pears and a slight medicinal note.  Barley sweets as my nan would call them, it has so much fruit, aniseed, brambles, and autumn leaf dampness.  It’s stunning, more please.

Overall thoughts

An absolutely amazing tasting, which showcased, not only just how good cocktails can be, but also that the whisky doesn’t always need to play the leading role.  You know that without it wouldn’t work, or with a different whisky it would fall flat, but there were one or two cocktails where you actually forgot it was there, and I think that is a positive thing.

There is so much science behind it all, (more than I could understand) and for anyone out there who thinks that making cocktails is simply sticking a few things together this would prove you very wrong.  If you are in London then you need to go to this bar, if not check out Selfridges and treat yourself, you will be glad that you did, but more than anything else, if you are offered a whisky cocktail anywhere, don’t just say no, give it a try, you may just be glad that you did.

With massive thanks to Steve, Daryl and all the guys from White Lyan.  It’s been unforgettable.

Kirsty Clarke (@kirstyclarke29)

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