Secret Orkney 1999 20 Years (Michiel Wigman)
There’ve been sooooo many undisclosed Highland Park whiskies in recent years. To be honest, I quite quickly grew bored with them. Sure, they were good, but never great. And they were all pretty similar. So I haven’t reviewed one for twelve months, consciously avoiding them actually. Until now, because Michiel Wigman was kind enough to send me a sample of his bottling, a Secret Orkney 1999 20 Years.
Why have so many casks of Highland Park hit the market? I’ve even heard of one independent bottler being offered 50.000 liters of new make. There’s a plausible rumour that it had to do with the expense of building an über-modern spaceship of a Speyside distillery (owned by the same company), but otherwise I’ve no idea. Independent bottlers have jumped at the opportunity though, because it offered a chance at affordable, quality and mature whisky during a time when these usually come at a premium.
Although affordable is relative of course. Prices of undisclosed Highland Park have risen along with the rest of the industry. So if these are your jam, act now before you’re priced out of the market.
Secret Orkney 1999 20 Years (51.9%, Michiel Wigman, C#93)
Nose: An elegant, somewhat waxy Highland Park with notes of honey, farmyard and wet pebbles. Just a touch of chalk, as well as ripe red apples and candied oranges. The smoke is incredibly subtle, almost non-existent.
Taste: Creamy with plenty of beeswax and soft heathery notes, as well as a decent salinity. A light mineral touch, but also briny green olives and just a whisper of peat smoke and roasted peanuts. It has some herbal qualities too, as well as soft notes of nutmeg and a pinch of pepper.
Finish: The salt makes an encore, followed by soft bonfire smoke and a whisper of lemon peel. Long.
An absolute winner, this Highland Park tastes mature beyond its years. Although he has some samples available, full bottles are completely sold out on Michiel’s own website. But there are still a few bottles available at Best of Whiskies. Highly recommended!
Sample provided by Michiel Wigman
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.