Highland 22 Years ‘Black Friday Edition’ (2020)
In reality Black Friday is nothing but a strange consumer tradition from the United States. And for some reason now the rest of the world thinks this is a solid idea. I don’t much care for it, but at least one good thing has come of it — The Whisky Exchange’s annual release of their Black Friday Whisky. This year they’ve chosen an undisclosed peated single malt from a Highland distillery. Not a young peat bomb like we see way too many of these days, but at 22 years an actual properly aged release.
Since the first Black Friday Whisky in 2017, these whiskies have become highly sought after. I assume that’s partly because people like cool looking, shiny new things. But mostly the Black Friday Whiskies have offered fantastic value for money, with last year’s Glenburgie certainly a high point for me. The Whisky Exchange now has a reputation to uphold with these releases, which will be increasingly difficult with the rising prices for casks. Three years ago the inaugural Black Friday Whisky sold for 60 pounds, now we’re just a few pennies shy of 100 quid.
So how good of a deal is this Highland whisky? Well, that all depends on the quality, but also somewhat on provenance. After all, a Macallan usually will cost way more than Tomintoul, regardless of how good or bad it is. The Whisky Exchange only hints at the distillery, noting in the press release that it is located near the Speyside borders and “known for its distinctively smoky style that sets it apart from its neighbours, making this whisky highly sought-after by whisky fans around the world.”
That doesn’t leave many options, with Ardmore the most likely candidate. And since similar Ardmore bottled by Elixir Distillers (a sister company of The Whisky Exchange) went for 30 or 40 per cent more, I’d say the price is very friendly. How about the quality though?
Highland 22 Years ‘Black Friday Edition’ (50.5%, The Whisky Exchange, 1308 bts.)
Nose: A touch of menthol (and even some iodine?) at first, but then gentle notes of a smouldering bonfire with baked peaches and caramel-glazed red apples. Somewhat waxy, a whiff of furniture polish and a good amount of sweet oranges. A hint of sage and thyme as well.
Taste: Mouthcoating and a tad dry. Notes of charcoal, wood smoke and some ashes, but also a touch of pralines, triple sec and cinnamon. Some gentle vanilla custard in the background, as well as damp oak and some papaya. Finally some grassy notes.
Finish: Soft oak spices, gentle wood smoke. Very elegant.
Very different from previous years but another winner. The Whisky Exchange upholds the reputation of their Black Friday Whisky with this undisclosed Highlander. Available here, but you’ll probably have to be quick.
Sample provided by The Whisky Exchange
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.