This is a new addition to the Highland Park line of single malt whiskey, not just a special release. It does not have an age statement. It is distinctive in it’s use of twice as many “first fill sherry casks” for aging the whiskey as is used in Highland Park 12. Using 80% first-fill Sherry casks (the rest are aged casks used previously) – 60% are first-fill European oak and 20% are from first-fill American oak. This seems to be something of a trend. Macallan has a new non-age statement whiskey, Rare Cask, that is 100% first-fill Sherry cask finished. The big difference is cost, the Dark Origins sells in the neighborhood of $80. The Rare Cask comes in at $300, very steep for a non-age statement whiskey and you will not see me reviewing it here.
Back to Dark Origins. It certainly has more of a sherry influence on the nose compared to the Highland Park 12. It is also a little darker in color, but not dramatically so. I think it might be just a bit more smokey than other Highland Park.
On the nose, I find a drier expression. Sherry, chocolate, caramel with underlying peat. The first sip certainly brings on the Sherry sweetness. I find there is a bit of an orange twist to the chocolate element on the palate, along with spice, and closing with peat and smoke. The finish has a little heat, intermediate in duration. It has just a little more enhanced element of the light gentle smoke finish of a Highland Park.
This is certainly a Highland Park whiskey, but with a twist. Probably not as refined and balanced in some dimensions, but a little more bold. I will certainly drink it, and enjoy it, as a fun addition to my single malt neighborhood.