After something of a delay, I've finally reached the last of three own-label single malts from Waitrose. At 16 years old, this is the oldest and, potentially, the best value bottle of the range, currently priced at £32.
Once again, the distillery is a mystery although the smart money (including comments from my earlier posts is on Glengoyne but as I've never actually tried any of their whisky, I'm not in a position to judge!
The Highland 16 Year Old has a pleasantly rich golden colour, as you'd expect from a whisky of that kind of age.
The nose is surprisingly strong given the relatively low 40% ABV, with overripe bananas, vanilla fudge and just a hint of damp wood. Watered, the sweetness is lost and the fruitiness more pronounced, and a warmer, toasted grain aroma also starts to emerge.
In the mouth, the initial sweet caramel is soon joined by fresh, green apple before leading into a slightly sharp – almost bitter – finish. Water brings out a creamy feel, and if anything extends the sweet caramel flavour. The fresh, slightly acidic fruit finish is softened, and the bitter edge to the finish lost entirely.
I'm not a regular Highland drinker, so I can't easily judge how good an example this is. It's tasty enough – although lighter than my Islay-focused senses would normally go for – but it lacks the depth of flavour and complexity that you might expect for a whisky well into its teens. 3 stars.
Many thanks to Waitrose for providing this sample to Pete Drinks.
This review was originally published 6th August, 2014. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.