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Highland Park 12 Year Old

HP x 2 - Part I

0 690

@talexanderReview by @talexander

1st Mar 2015

0

  • Nose
    23
  • Taste
    22
  • Finish
    22
  • Balance
    23
  • Overall
    90

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Shockingly, it looks like this could be my first Highland Park review (but how can anyone remember all of these whiskies anyway??) Established in 1798, this is Scotland's northernmost distillery, way up in the Orkney Islands, in Kirkwall (the only other distillery in that godforsaken land is Scapa). It was on the site of where there once was an illicit distillery run by smuggler Magnus Eunson. Excise officer John Robertson arrested him and took over the distillery in 1826. It was then bought in 1895 by James Grant of Glenlivet, and since 1937 has been part of then-Highland Distillers, now-Edrington Group, who has invested very heavily in this beloved brand.

All Highland Park whiskies are non-coloured and matured in sherry oak (apparently 20% is first-fill sherry) and use peated barley (much of which is malted on site), the peat being of a very different character than Islay peat. Strangely, most reviews of the 12 Year Old I could find were bottled at 40%, but this one is at 43% (perhaps that's the ABV of the Canadian imports, who knows?)

The colour is a rich amber. On the nose you have the sweetest peat you can imagine: heathery, slightly floral and very slightly medicinal. Tropical fruits (papaya, mango), lemon meringue and golden raisins. A hint of sourdough bread. The oak influence is subtle but it is there. Peat and malt are the dominant notes and they are lovely. A drop of water adds some smoky notes to the sweet peat.

On the palate there is more peat with some vanilla, raspberries, oak and lemon. Quite spicy. Thin mouthfeel but full, rich flavour, more dynamic with water. Absolutely delicious.

The finish is long but not deep - just enough to ride along waves of cinnamon, nutmeg and more citrus. This is a fantastic entry point to the core range - straightforward but has the right complexity and ease of drinking to be a great daily dram.

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6 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

@talexander, thanks for your very informative review.

Wow. You give me hope. If I thought that all I had to do to get a 90 pt whisky were to go out and buy a bottle of HP12 I would have done so, 3 years ago. My first bottle was locked up for 7-8 months with little flavour. So little peat and wine influence that you would not think that any of either was used to produce it. Then it bloomed. Lots of honey, and more noticeable wine. I haven't wanted to wait that long again. My experience is that Highland Park often makes you wait. It certainly often does with the excellent 18 year old. I do like the blossomed version of HP 12 a great deal...but I don't want to wait.

On the plus side, Highland Park uses some of the most delicious barley out there.

4 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

I think Highland Park can be quite inconsistent from batch-to-batch. I've read that the 12 Year Old is, and in my experience the 18 Year Old is as well. Also, both this 12 Year Old and the other HP I'm reviewing today are the bottom fifths of bottles open for many months, so oxidation may have helped tremendously.

4 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@talexander, it is very helpful to include that information on how long the bottle has been open. In every case it is relevant. In a case like Highland Park it is very typical that the differences are great with a lot of air time. A reader who doesn't have that information may expect her/his newly opened bottle to taste just like the review she has read.

'Copy' also that there has been a lot of inconsistency among batches reported in recent years for Highland Park.

4 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

Good point - I'll try to remember that for future reviews.

4 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

I should also add - as blasphemous as this may sound - I quite like this one on ice.

4 years ago 0

@tjb
tjb commented

I agree about HP needing to breathe, if I I shed my 12 just before Xmas which was nearly a year old. My bottle of 18 has been getting better and better. I can't bring myself to finish it in case the best is yet to come.

4 years ago 0

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