"An excellent independent release from a secret Orkney distillery, but we all know which one, don't we? This shows what a great spirit they produce there"
(Photo from Whiskybase)
So a secret distillery on Orkney, which one can it be? With Stromness closed for almost 90 years and Scapa being fairly rare among independent bottler, the name of the distillery might have well been on the bottle. Obviously, we are pointing at HP, apparently an extremely fruitful distillery for both official and independent bottlings. I must say, I have not been a big fan of the officials (something to do with an extreme rubber experience in the 12-year-old), however, many independent bottler seem to prefer a style that is much closer to the original distillate. So I am diving with great hope into this secrecy.
The initial scent is rubbery, but before my hair start to stand on end, this is replaced by more fruity notes. It is fairly punchy and also quite dirty. I guess we are sensing the sherry cask here, which at first does not let much room for something else. Then hints of chalk, new leather, sweet apples, and citrus fruits start to come through. More lime skin, before it becomes sweeter. A few drops of water relieve more scents of fruits with red apples, pears, hints of tangerines, and oranges. I think this could very well be a refill sherry cask. Dirty raisins, chalky chocolate cake, chestnut puree, and a very faint hint of smoky bonfires. The smoke gets stronger after a while, and it becomes slightly waxy.
The palate also starts off very dirty, but this time more on mud, moss covered stones and leaves. Like walking in a forest during autumn. Then I get lots of chalk, minerals, together with hints of copper and iron. Ben Nevis enter my mind while tasting this. The palate stays quite musty, let us see if water can slightly freshen it up. Indeed, slightly fruitier, but still lots of chalk, a distant hint of bonfires, coal dust and barbecued fish. I was already starting to get worried if this was really HP. The finish is reasonably long with bonfires, minerals, chalk, a hint of waxes, and copper. In fact, it is quite complex, albeit also slightly grassy.
I was not that much into HP, but after tasting this secret bottling I am convinced to taste more of their stuff. No rubber monster and it appear that their spirit is very convincing. At least, when left unaltered by too much cask interaction. Maybe the lack of an implausible commercial link to any of the Viking-sagas might also have helped? Or might that be the reason that this was obliged to exist in secrecy, I mean they do want want to p**s off any Viking deities, do they? Anyway, the next review will focus on another of those excellent secret independent releases.
A sample of this was tasted during the
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •