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Since I mentioned this one in my Talisker review, I thought I should pour myself a dram and update my thoughts on the Highland Park 12...
The nose is really subtle, even tantalising. Fruity sweetness mixed with smoke and a taste I associate with the smell of old leather.
The taste is honey sweet and fresh initially before being balanced by a lingering smokiness. Very smooth, dry and exceptionally well balanced flavours.
The finish is decently long and smoky, with a hint of the honey sweetness and a slight spicy tingle.
This is, in my relatively inexperienced opinion, one of the best value single malts out there. Superbly balanced, and very low-priced.
Unfortunately for me, I suffered from a little bit of 'name snobbery' when I started getting into scotch single malts. Names like Lagavulin, Glenmorangie, Abelour and Talisker sounded so much more exciting than the slightly prosaic Highland Park. But one day, I wanted to buy another dram, but needed to get the total sale cost over a certain amount to reduce my shipping charges, and I saw the Highland Park was cheap, and thought, why not?
I was stunned. And in love. This is a genuinely fantastic whisky, and when people ask me what whisky they should buy, if they are at all worried about money - this is the whisky I point them to, and none have been disappointed. It's good enough to be a special occasion drink, and cheap enough to be a daily dram.
As another aside, when I can't decide what sort of dram I want of an evening, the HIghland Park is one of those I tend to drift to. If I end up enjoying the smoke more, my next whisky might be a peat monster, if not, then I can move toward a non-peated selection, and it doesn't mess with my taste-buds either way.
If you haven't tried this one, put it on your list, and near the top. The only whisky I would say compares in value for money is possibly the Glenmorangie Astar.