Highland Park Earl Haakon Review

Highland Park Earl Haakonbarry's place pics 090

54.9% abv

Score:  91.5/100


Third of the Magnus series.  18 y.o. from 2011.  Limited to 3,300 bottles.

Concluding the saga…

The final chapter of the Magnus series by Highland Park.  Here  we have an 18 year old release, and wow, did this one stir up some consternation.  HP released the Earl Magnus expression in a limited run of 5,976 bottles.  The follow-up was Saint Magnus at 11,994 bottles.  Now, here we are with the third, and final, edition in the series, released in a run of 3,300 bottles.

Yep…you can see where I’m going with this.

So…first release does ok.  More than ok actually.  It sells out quickly, with quite some buzz behind it.  Time for edition two…let’s make more this time around.  Double it maybe!  Well…doubling the batch worked well.  All ~12,000 or so sold out.  Happy guys (and gals) at Highland Park, I would imagine.  Alright…let’s close out this story with a lovely 18 year old and release…a third as many bottles as we did with the second release!  Great idea!  Wait…what?

I saw a video with Highland Park brand ambassador, Gerry Tosh, explaining this very issue, wherein he acknowledged that they upset some people with this release.  He said it was a mistake.  They made too little and realized too late.  Hmmmm.  I don’t buy it.  This distillery produces lots of 18 year old whisky.  There is no reason they couldn’t have vatted another handful of casks in to beef up the production run.

I think there’s more to this one that we’re hearing.  Egregious error in judgement either way, I’d say, when you upset that many collectors and loyal fans.  The worst part of it?  This release is the best of the bunch.  Ok…maybe that is the second worst part of it.  The worst might be the price jacking we saw with this one.  Ouch.

Anyway…enough grousing about what is, in all honesty, one of my favorite brands.  I am a big fan of this distillery.

This particular whisky, Earl Haakon, is a rather exceptional 18 year old, full of beautiful depth and a wide bouquet of sensory treats.  As with the others in the range, this is a big, bold cask strength whisky, rather typical of the Highland Park profile, if not necessarily typical of their usual method of delivery (here we have it natural…cask strength…nekkid…novel).

The story of these ‘Magnus Series’ releases can be found in the review for the Earl Magnus.  I won’t deign to repeat myself and bore you again.  You’re only here for the tasting notes, right?

Nose:  Dusty, but sweet and sexy.  Very big honey notes.  Orange.  Smoke.  Lovely mature peats.  Some dusty grain silo.  Old leather gloves.  Back to honey and cherries.  Wow…what a great nose!

Palate:  Sweet honeyed fruits.  Gawd!…really, really nice fruits.  Maybe slightly orange-heavy.  Some smoke and coal.  A bite of pepper and clove.  Anise.  Graham cracker.  Very nice finish, long on smoked granny smith apple skins and honeyed barley.


– Reviewed:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

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