Highland Queen “Majesty” Single Malt (16 Year)

So it turns out that when I see a 16 year-old single malt for $23 on sale, I should buy a lot more than 1 bottle. This stuff, which is essentially 16 year-old Tullibardine, retails for $60! Now that’s a steal.

But being the cautious soul that I am, I only bought one bottle of this (and one of the 12-year) since I’d never had the brand and figured it could be a dud.

For a background on the brand, see my review of the 12-year. The brand website is devoid of useful information, but assume this is 16 year-old Tullibardine single malt bottled at 40% ABV after chill filtration and added color. The label says it was aged in “oak casks”. Duh.

Note: Some places on the Web claim this brand is owned by Alexander Murray instead of Picard. This is false, but could originate from recent collaborations between Alexander Murray and Tullibardine.

Nose: Clear, crisp, and piercingly fruity: fresh peach, tart nectarine, and farmstand honey. There’s also ripe kiwi and lemon-lime soda. These tart high notes are dominant, even after a rest in the glass. Only a faint suggestion of sweet malt and mild vanilla oak is detectable below the surface.

Palate: Syrupy body. A mild tongue burn is followed by shortbread cookies, scones with honey, sugar-dusted breakfast cereal, and slightly-burned toast (a little bitterness from the char). The fruit is oddly missing.

Finish: On the short side. Turns nicely malty and sweet, like malted milk. Hazelnut butter, bitter walnut skins, and a suggestion of cocoa powder. Fades quickly without evolving.

With Water: The water initially mutes the tart notes, leaving the aroma bland. Then, there are notes of green banana and green apple skins. The palate feels thinner, but there are more tart notes on the finish. I’d skip the water here, especially with the bare-minimum bottle proof.

Overall: This one presents an interesting contrast between a VERY tart and fruity aroma, a cereal-heavy palate, and a sweet, nutty finish. It’s almost like three drams in one. Each layer is, however, somewhat narrow in scope. (Two-dimensional, maybe, not one.)

The price is what makes this: A very tasty, unflawed age-stated malt for $23?? Yes please. I would have been a little miffed if I’d paid $50 or $60, so take the Recommended rating with a grain of salt. Get it on sale, if you can.

Some notes on this versus the 12-year, which I tasted at the same time:

The 12 is actually more perfumed, with far more floral notes and less fruit. It’s also more consistent across palate and finish. There is less complexity, less oak, and less sweetness. That’s about what you’d expect for 4 extra years in ex-bourbon oak. Honestly I’m quite glad I tried them both, as they both bring something different to the table. Given the choice again, I would buy one of each. At these sale prices? I’d buy three of each.

Highland Queen “Majesty” Single Malt (16 Year)
40% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $50 - $60
Acquired: (750ml bottle) Mission Liquor, Pasadena, CA $23 (sale)

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