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Highland Park 12 Year Old

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@vanPeltReview by @vanPelt

11th Jul 2013


Highland Park 12 Year Old
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

First vapor: Buttery cinnamon over deep orange.

Nose: Overall light. A slow breath: old sneakers, dark honey, salty nectarine. A faster inhale reveals levity: vanilla and macadamia, maybe a just-used pencil eraser.

Palate: Sour cream entrance...then becomes syrupy-sweet, and like an organic mouthful of earth and flower petals. This may seem rubbery, and it is woody more than grassy. Orange peel slips in, just before the finish...

Finish: Salty wood chips, with a remaining impression of syrup (so it is not too bitter). Some of the wood chips might have been lightly charred-- very subtle tar.

I feel surprisingly warmer to this one than I did to the 18yo (see my recent review). The 18yo did have a tad more complexity, but I also found significant drawbacks. The 12yo is straightforward and was somehow smoother, perhaps due to less sourness. Nevertheless, I wish both had more defining characteristics that would step up and make bolder statements. The HP12's first aroma is enticing... but read those palate descriptors again... It's okay, but there are plenty more interesting and enjoyable malts to explore.

To compare with other "reasonably close" Scotches, I think this is a step up from Isle of Jura's Superstition, and not quite on par with Bowmore's 12yo expression. My lasting impression is of a balanced dram with a couple interesting sensations (honey, rubber, earthy), although with no particularly striking characteristic.

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PeatyZealot commented

Think I'd rate it the same, last time it disappointed me a bit. In a restaurant setting, I'd prefer it over a Black Label, Glenlivet or a Fiddich, but if they have a random SM from Islay or Japan I'd go for that one.

10 years ago 0

BARutledge commented

I appreciate a review that isn't clouded by nostalgia...

My love for single malts did not start with Highland Park 12yr, but instead with Laphroaig 10yr, so I don't completely agree with how everyone reviews HP12 like they are greeting an old friend. With that said, trying it for the first time, I agree with (a less harsh version of) your tasting notes over any others I read. I'd say leather instead of "old sneakers", and light-rubber instead of "pencil eraser". I'd also give it a couple more points...

I like the review nonetheless, it's straightforward and honest. Thanks for sharing.

9 years ago 0

vanPelt commented

Thanks for the feedback! It's not so common to actually agree with anyone else's tasting notes, so it's always great to hear comments like this. I have had the HP12 since then, with slightly altered tasting notes: removed the sour cream, added "lager" and ginger, and changed the finish to "grassy dry malt with licorice". Of course it will change a little year to year, as will my palate. My latest score was 82.

I tended to agree with your comment on the "greeting an old friend" phenomenon. My opinion definitely has changed on my first single malt scotch (Auchentoshan Three Wood), but there is a tendency to want to like your first.

9 years ago 0