Highland Park Dark Origins

Dark Origins, Solid Results

Like an omen foretelling the death of your favourite entry level drams, or a new stellar mark-up: NAS, the acronym that sends shivers down the spine of most whisky enthusiasts.Seemingly whenever a NAS is announced, distillers are about to retire (or at least reduce the availability significantly) a classic, or cash in on our eagerness to pay good money for a fancy bottle by releasing a gimmicky bottle. The result is often an inferior or at least overpriced whisky young and relying mostly on a strong cask finish.
So when Highland Park announced Dark Origins accompanied with its own special video advertisement and a stylish black bottle complete with a hooded figure, most of us were rightfully sceptical. Looking back we were proven wrong: they kept their original range and the price stayed at an acceptable level (between the 12yo and 15yo).
So what about our second prejudice? Is the dark origins a flavour-driven NAS or just a gimmick, let’s find out…

no age statement, matured in twice as many 1st fill sherry casks as the regular 12yo, bottled at 46.8% ABV, mahogany in colour.

Nose: a rounded sherry nose with a full assembly of appetizing fragrances: dark damp earth, heather, honey and roasted chestnuts. Want more? It has some chocolate notes, lush camphor, a soft touch of orange, while an odd note of potatoes (Glenesk anyone?) is lurking in the background.

Mouth: medium dry body, a palate born in wood smoke and liquorice, with notes of raisins, rough grind dark pepper and cinnamon.

Finish: a medium finish with tones of ham and camphor, the iodine gives it a nice salty edge.


The Verdict: To answer my own question: definitely a flavour-driven dram. While expecting an easy sherry bomb, the nature of this beast is something entirely different. While this dram presumable has a young body, inside still beats the heart of an old man, resulting in multiple layers worth exploring.
Given the acceptable price, definitely one worth buying.
Score: 86

Nose: 22

Taste: 22
Finish: 21 Balance: 21
   < 75: undrinkable, avoid at all costs
75-79: acceptable, give it a try but don't spend to much money on it
80-84: average, enjoyable whiskies mostly easy sippable entry-level single malt 
85-89: above average drams, often well aged expressions, open your wallet
90-94: excellence, sorry kids no x-mas presents this year, daddy needs this bottle
95-99: divinity, call your bank manager for another mortgage on your house