Review No.26 – North Star Orkney 13 Year Old (Highland Park)

EDIT: I cocked up my review tally – this is # 26, nae 25.

A quarter century of uninspiring reviews with tasting notes you’ve read before – it can all seem a bit mundane at times, with very little Jim Murray-themed sexual analogies and zero controversy, but behind the scenes it’s actually a constant battle of policing my comments because a certain friend relentlessly posts under the pseudonym of Sir Pervy McBlowjob (I know it’s you, Kieran).

When I began my reviews, I did so because I wanted to learn and – with no past experience of reviewing other than my own written tasting notes – I stuck to a rigid structure of ‘Distillery History’ followed by ‘About The Whisky’, and concluding with ‘Firm Scoring System’. Yet, one of the more enjoyable discoveries I have made about written reviews has been slowly eking out a rudimentary and informal writing style whilst acknowledging that most visitors who kindly read what I write will be here merely to see if the whisky is any good, don’t care for an arbitrary scoring system, possibly visit to look at my dog, and little else. This realisation has meant I can post the censored comment below – I am free from the shackles of personal expectations and cast aside the worries that I must be serious. I have lowered the unobtainable targets of whisky reviewing that I set and can now finally give Sir Pervy McBlowjob’s (censored) comments the light of day and thank him for his continued support (he’s actually quite nice, it’s just long trips offshore send him a bit mad).

He genuinely has an invite to my wedding.

So, to celebrate this milestone/millstone of numbered reviews (TWENTY FIVE!), I’ve chosen a whisky from a distillery which I often find gimmicky, weighed down by their chosen marketing angle, and of which many releases are, in my easily-ignored and totally unqualified opinion, very similar (“it smells and tastes like hEaThEr”, said every single Reddit review ever). In doing so, I have again decided to use my dog as a gimmick to draw in the single figure readers. It’s all very apt. I could call today’s offering, ‘The Review of the Dog’, ‘Year of the Elsie’, or ‘Aberdonian Legend’, but I won’t. You don’t just change a successful review theme such as ‘Review No.’ on a whim.

So, today’s review is of a Highland Park whisky (you knew it was them, right?), BUT the twist is that it’s an independent bottling from North Star. A review site with twists – such drama! There hasn’t been this such drama in the whisky world since, well, yesterday – here’s looking at you, Jim!

North Star are a Glasgow-based bottler of single malts and blends (they also do rum, gin etc). This Highland Park is their most recent outturn from the Single Cask Range # 10 and simply stated as ‘Orkney’. I actually asked my Secret Source AKA ‘the shop I bought it from’, which distillery on Orkney it was from and they confirmed it’s everyone’s much-loved producer of Valhalla tropes.


Lobbed in to a Glencairn for the bog standard 10 minutes. Then consumed.

Nose: Freshly baked treacle wheaten bread, which is very prominent, sweet, and rich. There’s a background aroma of crystallised ginger, cinnamon, and star anise.

Palate: Slightly oily mouthfeel with Chocolate-coated McCowan’s Highland toffee at the front(RIP – gone but not forgotten), then tart apple pie too, which is followed by orange segments and burnt brown sugar. Bit of water opens it up, releasing lighter fruit notes cranberries.

Finish: Long, very warming, and moresome.

Well, this is a great whisky and fitting for REVIEW NUMBER TWENTY FIVE. I picked it up on a whim, based mainly on it being from an IB I hadn’t tried and my Secret Source’s recommendation, but I am very pleasantly surprised by just how good it is. A bit of a steal for £45 too and totally different to any of the Highland Park official releases I have tried in the past. I suppose it’s easy to knock them, but I’m very happy to see how good their whisky can be when released from an IB, and it’s certainly something I’d look to try again, in particular if it’s from North Star.

2 thoughts on “Review No.26 – North Star Orkney 13 Year Old (Highland Park)

  1. McGowans Toffee. The perfect solution to getting wobbly teeth out as a kid.

    Yeah, you don’t need scores. It’s all subjective and I prefer a good and lighthearted read. Same goes for tasting notes. I never take them seriously now as I buy based on notes then get disappointed. I’d suggest most whisky geeks have enough experience to tell from cask type the general flavour they’ll experience. And even then it depends on what you’ve eaten or drunk that day etc.

    Do you like it, do you think that’s value and a good story. That’s a great review. And it has a dog in it. Maybe I should use my dog more in reviews. He only likes beer and cider though.

    As for Jim? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks as the saying goes and I doubt somebody who self publishes will change unless people don’t buy it. I can sense his insouciance already. I don’t want to go on a witch hunt but I hear that he seems to rate himself very highly in an arrogant fashion so perhaps his comeuppance has arrived.

    According to Winston Churchill, humble pie is a very nourishing diet.

    Liked by 1 person

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