For this special mid-week installment of Tasting Notes, we take a moment to indulge ourselves with an afternoon dram of FULL VOLUME from Highland Park Distillery (Kirkwall, Scotland).
Just as a musician works with his/her “amps and equalizers [to maintain] critical balance at high volume by fine-tuning musical frequencies”, Highland Park’s Master Whisky Maker, Gordon Motion, uses his skills to ensure “that every individual wave of flavor finds its perfect place in the beautifully harmonized final spirit.” FULL VOLUME illustrates this point by striking a balance between two styles: Bourbon and Scotch Whisky. Originally distilled in 1999, FULL VOLUME is a Single Malt Scotch Whisky that has been matured in “100% ex-bourbon casks rather than Highland Park’s traditional sherry-seasoned ones.” This lengthy rest ultimately produced a 47.2% ABV Whisky that offers harmonized “flavors of creamy vanilla and sweet citrus fruits from the bourbon casks, balanced by Highland Park’s characteristic aromatic smokiness.”
FULL VOLUME is available now in specially-packaged 750ml bottles for the suggested retail price of $100. You can expect to find this Limited Release Whisky on shelves at select specialist retailers located throughout the U.S.
Now that we are all a bit more familiar with the inspiration behind FULL VOLUME, it appears it is finally time to find a good chair, grab a glass and crank it to eleven with some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for FULL VOLUME from Highland Park Distillery
Appearance: Poured neat from a tasting vial, FULL VOLUME presents itself as a brilliantly clear whisky that is light straw yellow in color. When held to direct light, the color holds for the most part but a touch of vibrant gold builds at its center. The whisky is slick on the glass, coating the sides with a wide tract of slow-falling legs that eventually meet to create a complete oil slick that never loses its hold of the glass.
Aroma: The nose begins with rich and inviting tones of vanilla and coconut. That sweetness is then brightened up with notes of lemon and orange zest. Tropical fruits bloom from the citrus to add notes of mango and papaya. The expected presence of peat finally surfaces to close out the profile with some light smoke that works alongside just a touch of toffee.
Taste: The grains and peat smoke quickly grab your attention here, but immediately mellow out to reveal citrus tones that come across as carefully grilled lemon and orange. Sweeter, candied lemon tones then force through and bring with them juicy exotic fruits such as mango, pineapple and papaya. Vanilla smooths it all out, creating a combined quality that mimics a lemon ice box pie that has just a bit of cinnamon in the crust. The experience finishes with a pleasant combination of coconut and banana.
Mouthfeel: Smooth and slightly creamy on the palate, FULL VOLUME has a beautifully long finish that allows you to fully savor notes of coconut and smoke. That 47.2% ABV is nothing to scoff at, but it is incredibly well behaved and allows each sip to be effortless and thoroughly enjoyable. Not at all harsh or aggressive.
Final Thoughts: If you are a bourbon drinker that has been looking for a way into the Scotch Whisky game, FULL VOLUME just might be your gateway. Although distinct and attention-getting, the peat and smoke in this offering are far more reserved than you will find in most Scotch Whiskies. The bourbon casks supply approachability with those familiar, gorgeous notes of vanilla and coconut, and the overall fruitiness – both the citrus and tropical fruits – of this expression keeps things light, bright and dynamic. Just like the music that inspired it, this unique spirit comes across as a smooth, free-flowing thought piece as it evokes memory while stimulating contemplation and imagination. All in all, FULL VOLUME is bourbon reminiscent while still retaining its character and heritage as a Scotch Whisky, and that makes for one hell of a memorable sip. Be sure to check it out the next time you are on the hunt for something special to add to the home bar. Prost!