Dewar Rattray Highland Park Tasting Notes

Posted: September 6, 2011 in Highland Park, Scotch Whisky A-G

Dewar Rattray Highland Park 1998 (11 year old) 46%

Bourbon Cask 5789/ Dist: 1998 Btl: 2010/ Tasted: June 2010

A sweet and gristy nose bathed in copious quantities of natural caramel. Even the herbal/ heather honey aromas are sugar coated. There’s a vague hint of something fishy but it’s all candied fruit peel. The palate is soft and straightforward, again awash with natural caramel with a delicate heather honey note. The alcohol dives in fairly quickly, leaving a salty finish and a slightly smoky after taste.

Dewar Rattray Highland Park 1998 (11 year old) 46%

Bourbon Cask 5789/ Dist: 1998 Btl: 2010/ Tasted: Aug 2010

The nose is very sweet and it has become exceedingly tropical (which I don’t recall from my earlier tasting). A touch gristy with crystallised fruit, herbal-honey and plenty of caramel oak.

The palate is pretty tropical like the nose – banana fritter springs to mind!. Again gristy with plenty of caramel/ butterscotch oak and honey. A touch short with some delightful spices and a hint of smoke on the finish.

Dewar Rattray Highland Park 1992 (12 year old) 62.3%

Bourbon Cask 20388/ Dist: June 1992 Btl: Nov 2004/ Tasted: June 2006

A lovely Bourbon oak nose of lemon/ citrus fruit. Rich, oily apricot and tangerine along with waxy citrus peel and light peat smoke. It has a nice sweetness with fauna and heather notes. There is no coastal character (mainland matured I think!).

Quite oily on the palate with heather and floral apricot fruit, then whoosh, in comes the rather gentle smoke and medicinal peat alongside tangy malt and cereal. Very long with a surprising grassy sauvignon-esque note in the after taste.

A touch of water emphasises the citrus fruits on the nose and does the same to the palate, although it mutes the peat/ smoke character. Thus for the full effect I suggest drinking neat!

Dewar Rattray Highland Park 1995 (14 year old) 57.6%

Bourbon Cask 1479/ Tasted: Oct 2009

Pretty heavily peated for a Highland Park. Fishy and coastal with sweet parma violet notes. It becomes very candied with time – sugared fruit, icing sugar. Quiet raw and unfettered with a suggestion of Sauvignon Blanc-esque white fruits.

The palate is very much like the nose – candied! The peat drifts in pleasantly, however there is some youthful marc like notes and really only an impression of fruit. The alcohol is very intrusive, leaving a dry finish.

Dewar Rattray Highland Park 1995 (14 year old) 57.6%

Bourbon Cask 1479/ Dist: 1995 Btl: 2010/ Tasted: Aug 2010

According to my earlier notes I though it was quite peated but it seems more smoky than peaty now. It seems a bit young and vague with some tropical fruit. Quite sugary with a touch of vanilla oak and peppery notes.

Slightly oily with lots of wood, lots of alcohol and lots of candy. Later a touch of flambéed toffee banana. We didn’t add water because there wasn’t enough spirit left in the sample bottle!

Dewar Rattray Highland Park 1992 (16 year old) 52.5%

Bourbon Cask 1244/ Dist: 1992 Btl: 2008/ Tasted: May 2008

A very fatty and oily nose. There’s quite a bit of peat smoke, but it all lanolin, wool fat and a bit of oily vanilla. Somewhere I can detect a bit of coastal, heather and scrub, but it’s all a bit muted.

The palate is flat, again quite a bit oily. I suspect that some faints probably got into this cask. There is only a slight impression of fruit and quite a bit of peat smoke and Talisker-esque pepper on the middle, but I’m afraid that it doesn’t redeem it!

Dewar Rattray Highland Park 1992 (18 year old) 58.6%

Bourbon – Rum Cask No2/ Dist: 1992 Btl: 2010/ Tasted: Nov 2010

A pungent nose which definitely leans towards the finishing cask. It has a distinct oily,Guyana rum character with the spirit begin relegated to a supporting role. There is some sawdusty oak, rubber and costal peat. It definitely takes some time for the spirit character to show and makes for an interesting nose once it is in the ascendancy.

The palate mirrors the nose, opening with the distinctGuyanarum character followed by the milky/ creamy oak, the sweetness builds but is halted in its tracks by the intense alcohol which strips the palate leaving just the oak. Water is definitely needed!

Water simplifies the nose and it is very much all about the finishing cask. The palate has become exceedingly candied, a bit simple and watery. Like a number of finished whiskies the balance is a little bit off.

Dewar Rattray Highland Park 1990 (22 year old) 58.1%

Sherry Cask 577/ Dist: 1990 Btl: Apr 2013/ Tasted: Apr 2013

This is one of those noses that you have to take your time with. Initially it doesn’t really give anything away, but give it some time in the glass and you are rewarded with quite some dark and dusty aromas with hints of paraffin, coal dust, tar and a slight butyric note all set against some mature, almost delicate, leafy Oloroso. It continues to unwind, showing a touch of treacle coated citrus, malt and molasses. A light saline note appears and begins to gather momentum as a fishy, medicinal side to the aromas develops. Quite beguiling now with some lightly perfumed violet.

The palate has a subtle intensity of nutty sherry with hints of herbs, tar, tobacco, treacle, leather, molasses and some light fishy notes accented by brine and peat smoke. The subtly piquant alcohol cleanse the palate to allow a wave of juicy sherried citrus fruit to appear out of nowhere. Very long with a light bittering from the oak but it adds shades of cocoa and treacle toffee. It finishes with some gritty, earthy, dry-peat along with a light violet note. A lovely old HP!

AD Rattray Highland Park 1990 (23 year old) 56.2%

Bourbon Cask 580/ Dist: 1990 Btl: 2014/ Tasted: Aug 2014

A superbly deep, dark and moist nose of light treacle, mulch, earth and dark peat. Hints of menthol, iodine, moss and sweet parma violets follow. Wonderfully mature and natural feeling with dark, slightly spicy wood notes and a touch of treacle-malt.  

The palate kicks off with dark fruit, treacle, honey, malt, earthy spices, soil and mature oak notes. Hints of earthy peat and muscavado sugar comes through. The oak bitters a little but the sugar contain and control that bitterness. A touch of oily dark toffee and tar comes through on the middle but it freshens towards the finish as some intense citrus emerges. Lovely length with light menthol and seaweed notes. The after-taste is full of dark butter crème and drying, slightly chocolaty tannins. A beautiful, mature HP! 

Dewar Rattray Highland Park 1981 (24 year old) 52.3%

Refill Bourbon Cask 6062/ Dist: Sept 1981 Btl: Sept 2005/ Tasted: Nov 2005

A menthol/ eucalyptus dominated nose then comes the almost delicate medicinal peat, iodine, tcp. It’s a dead ringer for Laphroaig. Underneath lurks some sweet, creamy citrus fruit.

The palate revels in its Laphroaig-ness – peat, menthol, coal tar and smoke with some heathery nuances (just to prove it’s a Highland Park!) Intriguing to say the least, it’s like mixing Laphroaig with Bowmore!



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