Highland Park Full Volume

”The Rain, The Highland Park and Other Things” 

Whisky Review # 945

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Full Volume - Limited Edition - 481 Casks
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: Distilled from March to September 1999 - Bottled 2017 - Around 17 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 47.2%
Maturation: First-Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks (Mix of Barrels and Hogsheads)
Filtration: Filtered at 4 Degrees Celsius
Price Range: US$ 85-125 (May 2022)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐 Okay at around US$ 80. I wouln't pay more though!
Buying Advice: 😐 Better go for the standard 18 Years


Pale Golden (Natural Colour)


Highland Park Malt usually matures in Sherried Wood so it would be extremely hard to recognize this Full Volume as HP in a Blind Tasting. The Ex-Bourbon casks would probably lead you in the false direction of a lightly Peated Highland Malt. Which is not necessarily a bad thing of course. The strong Vanilla & Fruit notes and the hints of Wax and Varnish confirm the 1st Fill quality of the casks. The Nose is mostly Sweet but a few Sour notes provide balance. The (Peat) Smoke is a mere after- thought but it does give an extra dimension to the Full Volume. It's not a great Nose but it's pleasant and confy. The Alcohol is noticeable but not in a nasty way. To be honest I would give it less than 17 years.

Main Aromas:

Sweet Toasted Barley, German Butter Biscuits, Vanilla, Honey, Apple, Pear, Toasted Pineapple, Orange, Lemon, Salted Nuts, Grass and Straw, Dried and Fresh Herbs, Toasted Oak, Cinnamon and Cloves.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Brown Sugar, Caramel, Wax, Glue, Yeast, Banana, Grapefruit, Gooseberry, Coconut, Green Mango, Marzipan, Green Leaves, Wet Forest Floor, Wet Stones, Earthy Peat, Tobacco, Cold Cigar Smoke, Pepper, Nutmeg and Mint.


The Palate tries to follow the Nose and while the basis elements are still there they are presented in a slightly less harmonious way. It's even a little Edgy, Dirty and Hot at times. Sweet & Sour notes still prevail but a light Bitterness pops up around the corner. How many times Highland Park Malts have disappointed me on the Palate. A pity!

Main Flavours:

Toasted/Malted Barley, Butter Biscuits, Vanilla, Honey, Apple, Pear, Orange, Banana, Lemon, Grapefruit, Gooseberry, Grass & Straw, Dusty Track, Charred Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves and Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Salted Caramel, Yeast, Wax, Bounty Bars, Nectarine, Mango, Salted Nuts, Herbal Tea, Earthy Peat, Cigar Smoke, Soot, Wet Stones, Nutmeg, Ginger and Tobacco.


Middle-Long. Sweet and Sour at first but with increasing Bitterness towards the Dry end. It's a little Thin despite the sufficient ABV. I find Sweet Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Honey, Apple, Pear, Nectarine, Bounty Bar, Grapefruit, Gooseberry, Orange, Lemon, Banana, Toasted Oak, Wax, Resin, Yeast, Hay and Grass, Herbal Tea, Dusty Track, Cocoa Powder, Tobacco, Dusty Peat, Cigar Smoke, Soot, Wet Cardboard, Wet Rocks, Tobacco, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, Cloves & Menthol. The Alcohol is much more present at this point.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve this Highland Park.

Rating: 84 

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 21 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but nothing special


The distillery was founded in 1798 by David Robertson. It is located in the small town of Kirkwall on the isle of Orkney. Orkney is still quite strongly influenced by its Viking past & the distillery has increasingly used this past as a rather successful marketing tool. Highland Park currently produces around 2.5 million litres of Alcohol & is owned since 1997 by the Edrington Group. The core range basically consists of the 10 (Viking Scars), the 12 (Viking Honour), the 15 (Viking Heart), the 18 (Viking Pride), the 21, 25, 30 and 40 years, Cask Strength, Dragon Legend & Viking Tribe.

We visited Highland Park in May 2019 and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit despite the terrible weather. Orkney is a special place and I understand the tradition and the bond with the Viking ancestors. It's such a pity that the distillery regularly distorts this picture with mediocre, expensive "Cult" Single Malts based on that theme.

The Full Volume was launched in 2017. Both radios and whiskies have to be tuned to produce the best sound and taste. But once again I think that the Highland Park commercial department exaggerates with the concept of the Full Volume. Both the name and the "threatening" Black Bottle and Packaging suggest a very strong and unforgiving Single Malt. But the opposite is the case. The Nose, although pleasant, is affable but not powerful. And the slightly Edgy and Hot Palate and Finish do not spell fine-tuning in my opinion. Once again suggestion and reality are two different things. I can't await the day that Highland Park simply decides to make good Malt Whisky without all the (Viking) bells and whistles.

While I was writing this review it started to rain and I was already looking forward to watch the Moto GP training in Jerez in Spain. Hence the title of this review. It's a funny coincidence by the way that the motor races are in Jerez and I'm reviewing a HP that matured in Ex-Bourbon casks 😀.  


Jan van den Ende                                                                             May 3, 2022

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

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