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The reviewed bottle of HP 12 has been open for about 8 months. This review is meant to give a perspective on the whisky over 8 months time.
Nose: at bottle first opened, slight to moderate nose with a little grassy barley grain and a little peat. At 8 months, there is very rich honey, strong high-pitched wine, malted barley mostly in the background, and just a hint of peat.
Taste: the freshly opened bottle yielded moderate peat, very muted malted barley flavour, a little salt and no more than the very slightest hint of honey sweetness. At 8 months, there is a huge honey sweetness, a full delicious barley-malt flavour, a little salt, and moderate peat. The difference in the flavours at the two time observation points is enormous. What is extremely impressive to me about Highland Park 12, and every Highland Park whisky which I have tasted, is the QUALITY of the barley flavour. All barley does not taste the same, or even very good. The same is true of peat. Highland Park's barley, is, in my opinion, exceptionally delicious.
Finish: the newly opened bottle's muted taste led to a rather muted finish. Pleasant, but not impressive. At 8 months the finish is rich, sweet, long, and luxurious, with all of the flavours fading out slowly together.
Balance: this is a great example of how much whiskies change after the bottles are opened, and the need to observe whiskies over time in order to allow a whisky to show its full character, before reaching too strong or conclusive a judgment as to its characteristics and its merits. I have seen quite a few whiskies now that have greatly altered flavour profile after anywhere between a couple of weeks and a couple of years. Sometimes I now think that every review ought to give references as to how long the bottle of the reviewed whisky was open, when the reviewed sample was tasted, whether there have been any observations of changes in the whisky in tastings over time, and what those time periods were. If I had reviewed this bottle in the first few months after it was opened I would have scored it at 78-80 pts. Now, at 8 months, I taste in Highland Park 12 yo the classic delicious whisky that so many love. Review scores are for the bottle at 8 months open.