Hopefully Santa was good to you and whatever your whisky wishes that these were granted? Thankfully there was no Highland Park under my tree come the 25th. However, later during the festivities I was offered a sample of the Rebus30 hence this review.
There was a time earlier in 2017 when it was impossible to interact with Facebook without a Rebus advert appearing. Arguably Highland Park was struggling to shift the 10,000 bottles released to mark the 30th anniversary of crime sleuth John Rebus. I have no interest in the book or character itself and due to the struggle to sell a rather large outturn neither did you it seems. It’s all about the whisky here at Malt.
Firstly, though I do have an issue with the presentation of this bottle that follows the black-clad exterior we’re now seeing from this Viking dominatrix of a distillery. More specifically the use of numbers on the label. I’m sure the Scotch Whisky Association has rules for almost everything including how you should open a bottle or even wrap it for Christmas. Yet as with most things in life there are unwritten rules; things that go without saying. An independent bottler once told me that the distillery name should not be larger than that of the bottler on the label. Before moving onto the most prominent figure on the label should be the age – if this is to be revealed. Here, Highland Park has sneakily incorporated the 30 into Rebus30 name.
The age is further down the label and for the record is 10 years old. The excitement of seeing a 30 for what was potentially a great price suddenly dissipated upon further inspection. Instead this bottle was released at around £30 plus postage, which in retrospect is a reasonable price for a malt of this age. Sadly, those who bought it in an attempt to flip onto the secondary market were left with a rather flaccid purchase. Then faced with the true horror of having to drink an official Highland Park, or at least flushing it down the toilet and calling upon the hammer of Thor to dispatch an abomination. Maybe, just maybe.
Yes, Highland Park has form with Rebus having previously celebrated his 20th anniversary with a single cask release that sells for a remarkable amount of money nowadays. Thankfully the outturn was somewhat extended for his 30th to a level where the Rebus30 is really drinking material as opposed to portfolio fodder. A result for humanity indeed – label aside – although in typical current Highland Park fashion you try and find out something about the contents. Bottled at 40% and created by their Viking master dresser that’s about it for the liquid. The devil inside suggests that this vatting of 10 year old whiskies removed the more benign and lacking casks from the Highland Park inventory. A bloodbath followed by a Viking sacrifice to the Edrington gods of profit and greed? Let’s see how the contents stack up.
Highland Park Rebus30 – review
Colour: a very light pine.
On the nose: fresh toffee apples, orange segments, milk chocolate with a little honey and faint heather. There’s no escaping a touch of spirit influence on the fringes.
In the mouth: very disappointing arrival, body and finish. Lacking character and definition. There’s some caramel and a sugary sweetness that moves into caramel. At a push there’s a light peat dusting, honeycomb and a damp cardboard finish.
An average nose soon evaporates when you taste the whisky itself. Is this a good whisky? Not really. Is it at least a decent Highland Park? Again, no and in honesty a tad disappointing. It lacks the quality we normally associate with this distillery. It feels vapid and incomplete. For around the same price you can pick up the entry level 12 year old Highland Park – possibly for less depending on supermarket deals – and it’s a much better whisky, or treat yourself to the Annon Batch 2 from Abbey Whisky, which is a single cask Highland Park.