Highland Park continues to shake up its image and product line, and I have to confess, by launching a product with a name like Twisted Tattoo, I figured Highland Park must have finally jumped the shark. I mean, this is a product that sounds more applicable to a flavored rum than a 16 year old single malt.
HP says the name is inspired by Viking tattoos, and in fact the company hired a Danish tattoo artist, Colin Dale, to create the bottle design, “which celebrates the tattoo as a mark of both standing apart and being part of a tribe – just like Highland Park. Colin’s intricate design is inspired by the free-flowing Nordic knotwork found on Viking wood carvings and reflects the Norse legend of the Midgard serpent, which grew so large it twisted round the Earth to grasp its tail in its mouth.”
OK, so let’s give HP a pass on the name and see what’s in the bottle. That too is unexpected: It’s a marriage of 153 casks of oak seasoned with Spanish Rioja wine and 70 first-fill bourbon casks. It is definitively unlike anything else in the HP stable and pretty far afield from Scotch in general.
Let’s give this new release a try.
The nose is nutty and very fruity, easily mistaken for a heavily-sherried single malt. Like all Highland Park expressions it’s made with lightly peated malt, but this doesn’t come through at all on the nose. A touch of hemp rope adds a savory element, and a gentle cereal character is also evident.
On the palate, the whisky immediately weighs heavy with citrus and stone fruit, making for an instantly exciting and unusual experience. A sweet honey gives it a surprising Sauternes-like note, with notes of almonds and a sweet cream element. There’s the slightest hint of smoke here, but it mingles well with the bold fruit character on the tongue. The finish surprisingly falls back more heavily on cereal notes, but the fruit is never far off. Aggressive but balanced, it’s an exciting whisky — and a lot more fun than I ever expected it would be.