Whisky Review: Highland Park 12 Years Old

Category: Island single malt scotch whisky

Origin: Highland Park Distillery

ABV: 40%

Cost: £27.50 from Master of Malt IMG_2746

What they say:

The expression that started it all for Highland Park. First introduced in 1979, the 12 year old is at the very heart of our core range and demonstrates rich, well balanced malty tones, with the subtle floral smoke which makes Highland Park such a distinctive single malt whisky.

Tasting Notes

Colour: Glowing amber

Nose: Heather-honey sweetness, peaty smokiness

Palate: Rounded smoky sweetness, full malt delivery

Finish: Sweet and lingering with heathery notes and subtle smoke

What I say:

One of my early bottles on my whisky voyage of discovery. I had heard so much good about Highland Park distillery, about the way they make their whisky and their ethos. Like Orkney, where this is made, this is a seriously tough dram. On the rocks this is enjoyable, neat it is a kick in the back of the throat. Thankfully I have had many HP’s since this that reveal some of the amazing quality whisky they can make. I have tried the 12Yo again and again and I still can’t man up to the power in this expression!

Colour:

Deep gold

Nose:

Toffee, smoky, slightly fruity (oranges?), honey sweet and barley malt

Taste:

Oily, earthy peat, toffee, sour and harsh, buttery with some mellow cereal components, honey sweet and a little salt (salted caramels), finally thin and vaporous at times

Finish:

Long, long harsh peatyness with a drying quality, hold it too long and it’ll burn the back of your throat going down.

Would I buy it again:

Probably not. The HP 12YO is a real tough customer. This is whisky on the edge, made in the harsh environment of Orkney. Unless you are some asbestos-throated Viking then this one is gonna hurt you sooner or later. Having said that a little ice locks in the flavours (which are more than pleasant) but calms down the finish. I don’t usually recommend (or resort) to rocks to calm my whisky but this one needs it IMHO. If you like your whisky to go down like a handful of gravel then this one is for you! There is a real punch of both peat and raw malt in this expression which is powerful but harsh and can be challenging to drink. Thankfully these flavours are tamed and simply beautiful in older HP’s and any other expressions I have tried from them so don’t let this one put you off!

Score: 67/100