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Highland Park 12 Year Old

Dangerous Gateway Malt

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@TheCasksReview by @TheCasks

12th Mar 2010


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

The Nose: Apples...no, pears! No...no, apples. Ok, today, maybe pears and apples, specifically the smell of a good, hard pear right before you bite into it. There's Definitely honey here, too. There are cereal grain notes, almost rye-like in their sharpness, a bit of rum-raisin cake as well. Just the faintest hint of smoke, lingering on the horizon, coyly promising to show you more later...smoke, you tease.

The Palate: Great mouth feel, very appetizing. Very grain oriented on the palate, a nice, rich maltiness, and again there's almost a rye quality. Every once and a while, Highland Park 12 reminds me of a heavily ryed bourbon in that way. Along those same lines, it has an Irish pot still quality as well. Honey and a little butterscotch provide sweet notes. There's a little smoke there but it remains flirty, just winking from across the room

The Finish: Ah, smoke, there she is, that minx. Malty, honeyed tones rise sharply again and then...smoke, a deft, delicate blend of peat smoke and wood smoke, neither medicinal nor heavy, just a soft gentle breeze of Highland smoke.

Thoughts: Michael Jackson considers Highland Park 12 to be perhaps the great all-arounder in the Scotch world and I'm inclined to agree (pffffft, right...who am I to disagree, sheeesh, such ego). A Wonderful combination of fruit and grain with just enough smoke to keep things rugged and interesting. If someone said they liked Scotch but hadn't tried much, give them this and they will fall in love with the whole genre. A gateway Scotch, dooming the unwary neophyte to a junkie's life filled with whisky blogs, tasting notes, phenolic concerns, oak-envy and latent hoarding tendencies.

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scribe commented

Always a welcome dram, the HP... I'm intrigued by the "flat bottle" thing though - special edition?

12 years ago 0

olivier commented

All the HPs (12, 18, 21) I've seen in stores for the last 2 years have been in flat (flask type) bottles.

I think of Macallan and HP as the 2 classical, no-frills (in the positive sense), Scotches, eshewing effect (such as excessive finishes or excessive peat). Compared to composers I'd have the Macallan as Bach, immense but a tad austere, and HP to Beethoven, classical yet fiery and mercurial.

12 years ago 0

jdcook commented

Yeah, in my opinion this and the Talisker 10 year old are the two real gateway whiskies. They open the door to a lot of the more powerful drams, and are fantastic in their own right.

12 years ago 0

drinix commented

Great Review @TheCasks! I do also agree with @jdcook, the HP12 and the Talisker 10 are two staples. These two Scotch-es alone deliver such a wide range of flavors and notes, that can keep you hooked for a good while. Both whiskies are consistent yet continuously evolving. Every sip (or even every dram) unveils a different, yet to discover, layer of flavor.

11 years ago 0

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