Whisky Connosr
Menu
Shop Join

Highland Park 12 Year Old

My first disappointment

0 4262

@NilsGReview by @NilsG

26th Sep 2012

0

  • Nose
    ~
  • Taste
    ~
  • Finish
    ~
  • Balance
    ~
  • Overall
    62

Show rating data charts

Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I'm a total whisky beginner and this is my first review, so it's gonna be crap. If you wanna learn something intelligent about Highland Park 12 read the next random review.

I recently opened my first HP12 and after everything I had heard/read I was disappointed. I got this bottle for the sole reason that it's supposed to be great for beginners.

The nose brought back memories from a chemistry lab, and puking vodka when i was 15. that kind of put me off. I read somewhere you sometimes need to let a dram open up and develop in the glass before it's ready, so I left it for about 5-10 min and came back for another go at it. I managed to work my nose past that first impression and found a lot of goodness. Syrup, Heavy oak and something I like to refer to as "choco-tobacco" (my favourite flavour to find in a whisky).

No water added. The palate initially delivered what I expected from the nosing, it was pleasing. After swallowing there was a peak of vanilla that was too strong for my liking. I'm not a fan of vanilla in general, noticing it in whisky can be nice if it's subtle, but for a brief moment it was the only flavour I could sense, yuck. Then that choco-tobacco came out nice and clear and put a brief smile on my face, yum. The finish was bitter woody and long. All in all it wasn't bad, I rather drink HP 12 than don't drink at all. Or maybe it was bad...

Despite the roller coaster of nice/less nice, it was surprisingly easy drinking. Is that why it's recommended for inexperienced drinkers? I'll definitely finish the bottle, I do not regret getting it, but will surely not get another bottle.

Related Highland Park reviews

42 comments

@Pudge72
Pudge72 commented

A very interesting first review, 'NilsG' (and I do not mean that in a 'backhanded compliment' sort of manner)! I am on the last couple of drams of a bottle of HP12 that was opened about 14 months ago. You pulled out some rather nice notes that I did not initially pick up.

I had a similar initial experience with this one...not so much the 'offputting' notes that you found, but rather the 'what's the big deal about this bottle?' reaction. It was pleasant, but did not grab my attention for the first several months.

What I will suggest to you is to go back to this bottle in intervals (say once a month or so) for the first little while. I found that this bottle started to really come together nicely, with the "so THIS is what the fuss is all about" moment occuring after the bottle being open for about 4 or 5 months, iirc.

I will be sad to see this one go...even sadder knowing that our local retailer has bumped up the price of this one by $5 recently. :(

7 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills commented

Indeed an interesting review. And it's not crap!

To be honest I also didn't like the HP12 so much as I expected referring to the opinion of others. It is quite subtle and delicate. Also flowery and briny in my opinion.

If you like some big flavours and especially the choco-tobacco (which I also enjoy a lot) notes, I recommend some nice sherry influenced whisky especially with high ABV.

I knew we had a discussion already, got it: connosr.com/wall/discussion/…

I'd like more recommendations too.

And btw as I see you are located in Japan I hope to read some reviews of Japanese whisky!

7 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

Your initial reaction to a newly opened bottle of Highland Park 12 is not rare.

At first bottle-opened, I didn't find much interesting in this whisky either. Then after a few months it changed a lot, in a very good way. I noted it in my later review of it.

connosr.com/reviews/highland-park/…

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

Thanks for the comments. Writing a review was fun because it made me think about the whisky in ways I wouldn't have if I'd just enjoyed it quietly by myself. Will definitely do it again.

Pudge72/Victor: I will follow your advice and not give up on this bottle yet. Actually, now I'm a bit excited to see how it's going to develop over the months. Thanks! I will post new experiences here in the comments, or maybe even do a new review too one day.

Wills: I will absolutely write Japanese whisky reviews, in particular Yamazaki 12 and Taketsuru 12. But I wanna be able to do them justice. It's only been like 3 months since I started drinking whisky seriously, and within this short time the ability to taste, or what should I say, the adaptation of the sensors have developed significantly. I'm fascinated by the biology behind it, I'm just now discovering how much smell and taste actually are ACTIVE skills, not only passive senses. Where I'm going with this is that I can only imagine how it must be for someone with years of experience. Therefore I wanna develop myself a bit more before I review my favourite whiskies. Also, at the moment I would probably rate them too high. Like a young teenager having his first major crush on a girl, unable to see any flaws whatsoever.

7 years ago 0

@Chookster
Chookster commented

I also am a few months into being a whisky drinker, and have so far gone through a bottle and a half of HP12. My first bottle was a couple of months ago and i wasn't overly impressed, but found the light peatyness to be quite appealing, but didn't find much else on the nose or palate. So in the end i got through about half of it then let it sit for a couple of weeks before returning to it, not expecting much, and got blown away; sweetness and saltiness had joined the party! Having left 1 drink in the old bottle and rushing off to get a second i've found the first drink upon opening to be very very sweet (which very much appeases my sweet tooth). Whether this is due variation in bottlings or an adjustment to the spirit i'm not sure. But i will do a head to head with the other bottle soon enough.

Either way i'm hooked, this stuff is amazing for the price!

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

Chookster: I sure hope my bottle will take me through a similar journey.

Highland Park 12: See now I got my hopes on you up again, so please don't become my second disappointment too.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

There is already a noticeable improvement. If this is an indication of the trajectory it will go I'm happy.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

I've opened the cork and turnd the bottle around now and then to speed up the process. A clear improvement. The dram I'm having now i would give a score of around 70.

7 years ago 0

@Jeffrey
Jeffrey commented

The collective advice above is very good. This whisky and many others require some time. The best bet with any whisk(e)y is to return to it again and again. If you really want to get serious about tasting, then you might have your partner or a friend pour a glass for you now and again; and then you can focus on what you taste and experience rather than what you expect from the bottle. Sure, you know you have such and such bottles in your collection but as that collection expands the process will become more and more meaningful. Moreover, you will move from an initial impulse to guess correctly what you are drinking to a sensitivity to the contours, as it were, of the whisk(e)y.

On another note, you might try the MacArthur's bottling of the 12 Year HP. It has more character and intrigue. The 18 Year, in my opinion, is the best of the plebeian lineup (I have managed to suppress any stirrings to acquire the patrician offerings). Happy exploring!

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

The last quarter of the bottle has been poured over into a Suntory Hibiki bottle I emptied earlier. It will give the remaining HP12 more surface contact with the air, I hope to speed up the oxidation the way. I'm not a patient man. This is not only a lesson in whisky for me, but also patience.

7 years ago 0

@BlissInABarrel
BlissInABarrel commented

looking forward to hearing you talk about hp 12 soon. i hope it blows your pants off! hp kicks more as than chow yun fat, man!!!! :D

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

It sure smells better from the bottle now. But I'll wait another month before I taste again. See then if there will be any blowage of pants. Doubt it will be more awesome than Chow tho.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

Yun Fat is

7 years ago 0

@Pudge72
Pudge72 commented

Glad to see the bottle continues to develop positively for your 'NilsG'! Keep us posted.

7 years ago 0

@UisgeJon
UisgeJon commented

Still looking for some beginner single malts? Here would be my suggestions so far - Clynelish 14, Macallan 12 (my first), and the Glenmorangie 10 (A very, very well-liked and just all around solid dram).

Interested to keep following your journey! Let me know your opinions on these starters if you've had the chance to try them.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

@Jon Well, no, not beginner malts in particular. But still yes, I wanna try those whiskies, i have not tried them yet. there are so much else on my to-drink list that a lot of the basic must-try stuff has been left for later. What can I say, Uigeadail entered my life too early.

7 years ago 0

@UisgeJon
UisgeJon commented

I know the feeling. Please let me clarify what I meant... I don't believe anything is a "beginner whisky" per say. I straight up enjoy all the ones I listed, and I absolutely want to make sure you don't think I am talking down to you at all! In noooo way do I want people to think I'm arrogant. I'm not. I am the first to admit that I'm a total novice. Haha.

Hope your journeys are going well. I have about a thousands bottles on my to-drink list as well.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

No worries, you didn't come of arrogant at all mate! I'm always happy to receive recommendations, one of the main reasons why I'm here. And I welcome anyone and everyone to be my teacher. I haven't been drinking whisky for a year even myself, I'm just absorbing everything I can get hold of, both in terms of info and drams.

7 years ago 0

@UisgeJon
UisgeJon commented

I'm in the same boat you are. Absorbing and learning about as much as I possibly can! This is one heck of a journey. =)

7 years ago 0

@BlissInABarrel
BlissInABarrel commented

Nils, I just want to say that if you don't like this whisky I'm gonna punch you in the leg so hard one day. :p kekekekekek hahahaha

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

I had another dram to check the progress. Now it's really getting to be a more interesting whisky, the is a whole new width to it. But for me to like this whisky, rather than new pleasant things to appear, I want this one particular flavour to disappear. It's like it doesn't matter how nice a person is, how generous, how funny, supportive, if that person also kicks you in the groin every time you meet, then you don't wanna hand out. I'll keep coming back to give it more chances, but you might have to bring out you brass knuckles Bliss.

7 years ago 0

@Pudge72
Pudge72 commented

@NilsG...thanks for keeping us posted on the evolution of the bottle. Are you able to provide a description of the offending assailant that travels in the disguise of the lingering off note? If you ask nicely, Bliss may use her brass knuckles on it, rather than your leg. :)

In the short span of my whisky hobby/education, I have found the HP12 to be a great educational bottle as it is the one that has evolved most noticeably, and in a relatively short period of time.

7 years ago 0

@BlissInABarrel
BlissInABarrel commented

Hahah tonight I was at an event where I got to try the hp 12, 15, 18, 25, 30 and Thor and I thought, " dammit! I would have so much fun of you guys were there with me!" And yes a thought ran through my head when I sipped my hp 12 where I pictured myself grabbing nils by the collar saying, "see? This is so good!" And he agreed, not because he felt threatened by my man hands, but it was a light bulb that ran through his head, "ah! If is fantastic! I got bamboozled and some punk corked my hp 12!" One day, I really hope I will be a rich person so I could fly you guys to Scotland and have fancy drams. :)

7 years ago 0

@YakLord
YakLord commented

I don't know, @BlissInABarrel, I wasn't all that impressed by the 12 or the 15 at our tasting event in November. The 18 and the 21, on the other hand, were fantastic. Next time I pick up a bottle of the 12, I'll have to let it open up for a while before I pour myself a dram.

7 years ago 0

@BlissInABarrel
BlissInABarrel commented

Dear @yaklord and @shwestyswedenilsg I think you are both right. The 12 is good but it's not mind blowing and willl melt your pants off kind of good. I could easily purchase a glenmorangie Quinta Ruben and find it to be a solid bottle and the price point is a great deal whereas the hp's run high. Where im grtting at is hat i woild purchase the quinta over the hp 12 and 15. i do find that the 18 year and above are stunning. I like them just the way they are, even when they're freshly cracked open then and there. I think my problem is that I have a personal love for hp and i get too caught up with this stuff as being awesome because it was the brand that inspired me to travel solo and the brand ambassador for hp is like a dad to me. So I would give up a kidney if he needed one because he's that special to me, which makes me think that I should refrain from reviewing any hp's because my vission may be skewed by the attachment I have for them for personal reasons. :)

7 years ago 0

@Wills
Wills commented

Aha there we get it, Bliss is a true HP fanboy, so I take your comments to HP minues 10% to get a meaningful statement ;)

Just kidding, have a nice weekend guys and girls (with hands and voices like a bear)

7 years ago 0

@UisgeJon
UisgeJon commented

@Bliss I totally know what you mean. You know my story about my grandpa passing. Because I have N emotional connection to Johnny Walker Red, I will always smile when I think about it. Is it a great Whisky? Nope. Would I write a great review on it? Nope. However, I will always enjoy it.

Perception is reality - what I feel when enjoying something, no matter why it is that I feel that way, is genuine.

Now this isn't to take a thing away from HP, I love the stuff. But I find it awesome that Whisky allows for an emotional platform, allowing us to attach not to a beverage, but to an experience and a memory.

7 years ago 0

@BlissInABarrel
BlissInABarrel commented

I am a total fanboy!! I'm such a creeper

7 years ago 0

@BlissInABarrel
BlissInABarrel commented

@ushkajon thanks for the feedback! :) @willywills I've been known to elbow little Korean girls at Korean concerts so not only does this make me a fanboy this makes me ruthless. To be fair they were rude so I had to regulate like warren g. Keepin' it real

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

@Bliss, remember that time when you and Nate Dog drove up and shot some guys and then took all their girls to to some nasty hotel? Well that was me and my mates you shot down, we were just having a good time.

By the way I had a HP that was super good last night! SMWS 4.153 "Kerosene Delight". 11yo but oh so good. So there's hope for me to still become a HP fan too.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

@Pudge72 Sorry I just noticed you asked me a question I forgot to answer. I don't know how to accurately describe the smell, the closest I can think of is acetone but that's not a completely accurate description. Ok, I'm gonna come clean with what this whisky remembered me of, but I didn't wanna write about it in the original review cause it's a bit gross: In a previous line of work I once had the "privilege" of doing CPR on a guy that was ODing on heroine, and he was frothing from both nose and mouth, and a disgusting pungent smell I'd never smelled before came out of him. I was doing mouth to mouth and a colleague was doing the chest, and the both of us got this smell imprinted in the brain somehow, and for three days EVERYTHING smelled like that drug addict. I couldn't eat for the whole day cause everything smelled bad. And that smell, although much less prominent, I found in my HP12 bottle. I would maybe have scored it higher if I didn't have this association, but regardless of that, it's not a pleasant smell.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

Ok, I couldn't wait a whole month so I'm back sipping some again now. Maybe it's because it's not much left in the bottle and the air:whisky ratio is very big, but the transformation of this drink seems to have accelerated. There's a nutty flavour that has appeared that I didn't notice before, or maybe it was there but kept in the background but now comes out in full flair. Its much more mellow and smooth now, things have fallen into place. This is now a dram that I wouldn't hesitate to say is good. I am satisfied whith what I have in the bottle now (@Blinh, you don't have manhandle me, HP12 is good, I admit). The unwanted smell has not disappeared but there are enough good stuff standing infront of it for me to be able to look past it.

Thanks to all who encouraged me to give this whisky some time, it's been a great lesson! If it wasn't for connosr, I would have tried to finish this bottle quick to leave room for better and missed out on the really nice dram that's in my glass now.

7 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

Wish I'd read your very informative review before I bought my bottle of 12 year. It seems HP12 is so uneven now that it's a crapshoot as to whether one will get a good one or a bad one. You obviously got a bad one. So did I.

7 years ago 0

Rigmorole commented

The 18 is even worse because it costs more!

7 years ago 0

@tjb
tjb commented

@NilsG For a first review I think you hit the right tone as this thread proves. I am almost a yr into my Whisky journey too and have asked similar questions. Which bottles i try when? I had HP12 on my list and whilst this thread hasn't made me remove it, I have dropped it (way) down the ranks as one to get around to rather than a must try.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

@tjb There might be unevenness between the bottles, I wouldn't know. And there are enough people out there who loves the HP12 that I couldn't argue against trying it, I mean statistically you'd probably like it a lot. And actually the sprit I have in the bottle now I WOULD recommend... If you are prepared to take the risk of having to drink a few less good drams to get some oxygen in the bottle and then wait half a year for the goodness to appear.

7 years ago 0

@tjb
tjb commented

@NilsG I know what you mean but there are so many others to try I might just wait and try some if I find an open bottle in a restaurant/bar instead of spending hard earned cash on a bottle.

7 years ago 0

@NilsG
NilsG commented

@tjb That's what I personally would do. Having to wait too long is a turn off, and I'm not willing to pay as much as I would for a whisky that's good already from dram-1.

7 years ago 0

@PeatyZealot
PeatyZealot commented

One can always add some Drambuie to this one for a nice Rusty Nail :)

And maybe this helps to be able to do a decent tasting/nosing: www.youtube.com/watch

It surely helped me! The guy has a nice open approach to whisky :)

7 years ago 0

@Pudge72
Pudge72 commented

@NilsG...wow, what a disturbingly 'unique' tasting note. :0 I feel safe in assuming that "frothing, overdosing, drug addict" is a note that has not appeared, nor will ever again, in a whisky review...anywhere. Thank you for indulging my curiousity, I think. :)

7 years ago 0

You must be signed-in to comment here

Sign in