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Highland Park 12 Year Old

Perfect middle of the way dram, and very well priced

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@jdcookReview by @jdcook

15th Oct 2009


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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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.

Related Highland Park reviews


jeanluc commented

Another great review from Australia's finest. I haven't had Highland Park 12 for a while now, but its one of those whiskies which should be in everyone's cabinet, for that price you can't argue.

12 years ago 0

galg commented

indeed, the HP 12, is a great bargain for its price. heather,honey and a bit of peat smokiness. all in a very balanced package, for a great price. u can not go wrong.

12 years ago 0

jdcook commented

@Jean-Luc - I dunno, about being the finest at anything, but I'll take the compliment.

12 years ago 0

GhostWorks commented

jdcook said: "...the finish is decently long and smoky, with a hint of the honey sweetness and a slight spicy tingle."

Really, JD? I found it hopelessly wanting in the finish. There's simply nothing there!

12 years ago 0

jdcook commented

@GhostWorks - I read your review, and found myself wondering if it was the ice you added (I find that anything more than a couple of drops of water really flattens this malt, and ice tends to flatten even more than room temp water), or if you just got a bad bottle. See what it is like with a couple of drops of water instead of ice, and let us know how it goes.

12 years ago 0

Silas commented

Yep! "Best Bangs for the Buck" Scotch! At $40 here, I find it the best to serve to my friends that come over. ( I hide the Highland Park 18 in the cabinet!) So far, no one has disliked the 12. But then again, I am a neophyte to Scotch and so are most of my friends. I would say that one would not likely go wrong is giving this one as a present. Most would appreciate it.

12 years ago 0

AboutChoice commented

I'm a bit surprised that no one has disliked the HP 12 ... it's pretty peaty ... you must have hearty neophyte friends :-) The burnt-rubber nose on it still turns me off. Anyway, we all now know where you keep the good stuff !!

12 years ago 0

Silas commented

Yeah, I just lately put the "good stuff" in the cabinet space that was full of glasses and knicknacks. I found that if I left 4 or 5 bottles on the counter, my buds would say..."Let me try THAT one...the HP18 or the Lagavulin 16. I leave the Glenmorangie 10 and Highland 12 out. In the end, the stuff that I'm not crazy about, I'll display. Win/Win!! Don't we ALL hide the good stuff?

12 years ago 0

jdcook commented

@AboutChoice - if people don't like peat and smoke, then the HP and Talisker offerings will be where they draw the line usually. But if you can bring people up through the A'bunadh, and the Dalwhinnie, and get them to enjoy it, the next step to the HP 12 or the Talisker 10 is nearly always a good one for them.

12 years ago 0

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