“A skinned peach dotted with heather flower petals.” That description is meant to capture how very light and how very delicate the nose is. This surprises me. Just one look at the name and packaging, and I expected a lot more Pow! I start to make a joke about how unreliable my guitar tech is and how he hasn’t yet plugged in the Marshall double stack box that comes with the bottle. But then I’m perfectly charmed by the gentle touches of apricot nectar, perfume, and cat medicine. It’s like really muted sherry notes dancing in the moonlight. [Stephen: Um…John? It’s 100% ex bourbon.] Ahem, it’s so muted it’s like a silent, moonless night with no sherry at all. I can, however, discern limestone bocce balls, chert netsuke, and a slate checkerboard with gray pieces on both sides.
Like the nose, the mouth is so light at first I think of pillows and clouds. But then the tangy sweetness rises up in a way that announces itself. More than full volume, what comes to mind is full tang. It’s like when you hold a chef’s knife and notice that the metal runs all the way through to the end of the handle. You admire the craftsmanship, the refusal to spare expense. And above all it’s what these efforts make possible. The balance and heft are there; this is an instrument that is well-designed. There are soft willow branches used to make an Appalachian chair, garlands of heather blossoms, and candied toothpicks arranged into elaborate structures.
To my surprise, there is more vigor on the finish than I expected. I now see it’s like an iconic horror movie that lulls you in so that the full, nerve-jangling work can be done in the latter third of the film. As I reconsider the tang on the mouth, I see that I am the one that was soft and delicate, that I am the one with pillowy lightness. For now there’s a buzzing in the air. It’s the moment before the first strum of the guitar and it’s like storm-threatening sound clouds are suffused with negative ions. Sure, I can say a few things about orange peels and heathery peat and how striking this Highland Park is that has never known sherry. But what I’m feeling is what it’s like to be touched by an octopus at a time and a place that was unexpected. Oh, look! The band is on stage, the lights are about the come up, and in a moment the clattering sounds of rock and roll will fill the atmosphere.
On the scale of chef’s knives—-
The Highland Park Full Volume is the 8” Wüstof Classic—-With visible rivets that remind you of its strength while also adding a touch of beauty, this knife is an icon.
–Our thanks to Highland Park for the sample!