Well, if you’ve been watching the weather channel, you know that Boston is getting ready for a blizzard. To me, that says, “Hey Phil, review some great bargain whiskey.” So, today I am reviewing one of my favorite value Scotches – Highland Park 12 year. It also gives me a great chance to illustrate one of my classic teaching points about whisk(e)y.
The other day, Mary Kate Long (self-proclaimed coolest person in the world), was trying some Highland Park at my house. I had said that I usually catch a citrus note that I usually describe as mango, pineapple, or apricot. However, when MK tastes the Highland Park, she said she didn’t taste any pineapple at all. In fact, she was very angry that Highland Park did not taste like pineapple to her. My point in the story is that everybody’s taste buds are different. When you taste a whisk(e)y, the flavors are general, not as specific as I describe them in my reviews. However, I like to be eclectic, so I like to point out the specific things that the flavors remind me of. So, everybody will get different memories out of whiskey. That’s the fun of it!
So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on Highland Park 12 yr (it is aged in ex-Sherry casks and bottled at 86 proof). The nose on this whisky is pretty sweet. I sniff dense notes of heather, honey, pineapple, citrus vanilla, and a light whiff of smoke. The palate is medium-bodied with a rich, sherried backbone. Dried mangoes, apricots, apples, and pears all roll across the front of the palate. This is seductive stuff. The finish is medium-long with a healthy dose of smoke, and a warming fruitiness. The citrus sweetness works through the smoke a little bit after a few minutes.
Overall, this is a fantastic single malt Scotch. It is deliciously drinkable, soft, and seductive. It appeals to the Scotch beginner and the Scotch connoisseur. If you ever want to make a Scotch drinker happy without breaking the bank, snag a bottle of Highland Park 12 yr. My grade: B+. Price: $40-45/750ml. This one is a great place to start if you are looking into a Scotch that balances sweetness with some subtle smokiness, not to mention the awesome price point.