Cadenhead’s Highland Park 26 Year (1988)

Christmas Countdown 2020 #14: Cadenhead’s Highland Park 26 Year (1988)

Distillery: Highland Park

Bottler: Cadenhead’s

Region: Island

Age: 26 Year.

ABV: 55.2%

Color: 0.3, Pale Gold.

Price: Sample courtesy of /u/iDriveAvolvo

This is the 14th installment of this years’ Christmas Countdown. You can see the entire 2020 series here or the 2019 edition here.

This particular review was done blind.


Nose: It’s smoky, savory, and meaty with a lot of bacon with a hint of molasses. The day before I tried this, my boss had told me about the turkey he smoked for Thanksgiving and I was left imagining that this is what that turkey would have smelled like. There’s a slightly metallic note that seems out of place.

Palate: At full strength, the whisky is fairly closed. With just a bit of water, it opens up quite nicely. There’s a load of berries of various types. But they’re not fresh berries, it tastes like they’ve been dusted with sugar and then brûléed. There’s a little bit of custard that comes along as well with a tad of creaminess.

Finish: Medium in length. It’s a tad smoky with a bit of salty smoked salmon. When everything seems to be going well, there’s a metallic note that sticks its grubby fingers in.


Guess: Going off of that metallic note, some kind of Irish whisky? Would have to be Teeling or Connemara I think given the smoky/peaty notes.

Reveal: Cadenhead’s Highland Park 26 Year (1988)


Conclusion: It’s amazing how a single note of something can make or break a whisky. I loved almost all of this. The smoky, savory, meaty notes you get smelling it are mouthwatering. The custard and brûléed berries that dominate are also pretty darn delicious. If it ended on the little note of salty smoked salmon, I would’ve said this is a smash success. But instead, there is this weird metallic note that is the last thing lingering on the tongue. It reminds me heavily of a few Irish whiskies I’ve had and I have no clue what it could be. This Highland Park by Cadenhead’s is quite a treat, I’m just left feeling that it should have been so much even better.

Final Score: 83.

Scotch Whisky Review #236, Island Review #36, Whisky Network Review #356


Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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