Orkney 2010 11 Year “Thompson Bros.” 50%

Not So Secret Orkney Refill Hogshead

Highland Park is one of the few distilleries I’m very familiar with. I’ve tasted through the core range many times at various events but never purchased a bottle. A poor combination of low proof and high prices just doesn’t have me rushing to open my wallet.

The independent scene, however, is a whole different story. A plethora of choices to be had. Cask strength, un-chill filtered, natural presentation, and all at typically affordable prices. This Thompson Bros bottling is just that but with a slight twist. This refill hoggie was dumped into a Caol Ila cask to finish for an additional 6 months bringing with it a level of peat I’ve never entirely experienced before with Highland Park.

Tasting Notes

Tasted neat in a Glencairn with 15+ minutes of rest. Dilution added for the second half of the tasting with additional rest of upwards of an hour.

“Peated Reisling”. Stay with me here and I’ll explain! As soon as I put my nose to the glass, the first aroma was this sweet wine-like spirit and heavy phenolic peat notes. Fresh cut flowers and orange blossom water. Almonds and marzipan. Tart, dried fruit notes of sultanas, pears, and apricots. Sea air brine with notes of kelp and freshly caught mussels. The sweet aromas that pop through remind me of a brandy flambé with a dash of cinnamon.

The palate brings lots of oak and intense peat! I’m really enjoying what the finish is bringing, intensifying the peat in the softer Highland Park spirit. Ginger cookies with a molasses funk and a bite to it from cardamom. A bready salinity like salted soft pretzels. The oak comes through as fresh-cut timber with a green edge to it. Cereal mix with a touch of toffee sweetness. A slight textural imbalance unfortunately that’s worth noting.

Noticeably peaty on the finish. The grassy aromas come through, reminding you of summer yard work and barbecue. Drying seaweed and grilled romaine lettuce, sprinkled with parmesan and cracked black pepper. The peat is coming through medicinally and metallic. Tin, copper, and nickel. Savory and sweet like a malty, grilled, and caramelized peach. Lastly, a touch more of the almond extract flavors bring with it a sweet cake or almond tart flavor.


I think this is one of the more unique Highland Park expressions namely due to the peat. It is unusually peaty and took me by surprise at first but I enjoy that aspect!

I’m a fan of both the nose and finish but something about the lack of viscosity on the palate slightly diminishes the experience for me. Solidly peaty dram but just lacks that tiny bit to push it over the top.

I do recommend this bottle. It has a very palatable bitterness to it that balances some of the medicinal peat and brine that I love. The cost isn’t exorbitant and if you’re searching for a sidekick bottle to say, Laphroaig Cask Strength, it plays quite well with other Islays.