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Highland Laird Speyside 1996 – Aged 18 Years

Highland Laird Speyside

I love a good indie bottler. Why? Because you can get some astonishingly good value whiskies. In an age where prices from distilleries are going up and up to meet demand, you can still find cask strength whiskies that are well over fifteen years old or so, being sold for little more than a DVD and a packet of crisps.

This brings me to the Highland Laird range, which I recently stumbled across at the Midlands Whisky Festival. When I spoke to the folk at the stand it was nice to hear about this little family operation. They’d quietly been squirreling away casks over the years and now they were releasing them at a very reasonable price. Highland Laird sits alongside the Malts of Scotland range, which has itself been shortlisted for the Icons of Whisky awards. So these people clearly know their way around a dunnage warehouse.

The Speyside 1996 – Aged 18 Years is bottled at 56.6% ABV and will cost you around £50. Needless to say, that’s pretty damn reasonable for a cask strength whisky of that age.

Highland Laird Speyside 1996 18 Years OldColour: deep gold. On the nose: absolute pure honey. Very fresh and fragrant, elder flowers, hay and a touch of dusty old barns. Grassy, with a bell-pepper sweetness.

In the mouth: vanilla custard, and again honey (in fact, almost like a honey, yoghurt and granola mix). Herbal. There’s an intense sweetness here that reminds me of some fine single grains I have, which is unusual. Burnt toffee. Cadbury’s Caramel. Lovely thick texture. There’s a prickle of wood spice towards the finish, which is rather warming. Just a hint of maltiness. It’s really lovely stuff. I think what’s curious about this is that the cask was a sherry hogshead, but I was getting notes I’d more commonly associate with American-oak bourbon casks. The wonders of whisky…

£50 for a really drinkable single cask, 18 year-old whisky. This is really good value, and a very pleasing, classically styled whisky. It’s like drinking whisky in the olden days – and by that, I mean about three years ago.

You should definitely check out their wares and you might find a bargain or two.

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Mark

I've written about (and reviewed) whisky for Whisky Magazine and The Scottish Sporting Gazette among other publications. I do other writing too: several mass market genre novels, a few short stories, including for BBC Radio 4. For my day job (I know, I don't get out much) I work in digital content. Follow me on Instagram.com/maltreview/ or Twitter.com/MaltReview.

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