Thursday, December 1, 2011

Snow Day!! Highland Park 12yr

I have chosen the Highland Park 12yr, or HP12 (does anyone really call it that?) as my first review for several reasons. Firstly, it is the whisky I have been drinking and enjoying most lately, as you can see by the mostly empty bottle in the pictures. But secondly, it is the whisky that peaked my interest and lead the way for me into the world of Scotch Whisky.

   A little background history: I've had experience with whiskey most of my life. My earliest memory of it comes from my grandfather Frank, who I have always looked up to very much, drinking Bushmills on rocks when every I would visit them as a kid. My dad was an occasional scotch whisky drinker, and his dram of choice was Glenmorangie. He would let me have a smell and sometimes even a sip when he would get a new and exciting bottle to sip and savor. And of course use the accompanying tin to store change. Honestly, I hated the stuff. I would never tell my dad because I knew it was special to him and if he loved it it must be great, right? Gooegh, hated it. Tasted like dirt. Really, I still remember the taste in my mouth. From then I made a mental note to myself that I hated Scotch Whisky, and didn't return to that thought until not long ago. I didn't, however, hate whiskey. Far from it, actually. I became quite fond of bourbon. Makers Mark and Evan Williams were my drink of choice, but I also drank Wild Turkey, Woodford Reserve, Fighting Cock, and few others. Almost always on the rocks. I had lately been learning more a about whiskey, and started trying a lot of Irish blends neat. Started learning about nosing, got some glencairin glasses, etc. I was walking through the liquor store with a bottle of Killbeggan, when I decided to try scotch tasting, even though I knew I hated scotch of course, but I was interested in furthering my education. First, they had Famous Grouse. Sweet on the pallet, nice mouth feel, wow, not bad! To bad I hate scotch though. Next, Black Grouse. Way to smoke for me, hate scotch. Lastly, Highland Park 12yr. now this was different. So complex in my mouth! And smokey... and I hate scotch. Left with my bottle of killbeggan. Little did I know, but my mind was officially blown. Couldn't stop thinking about the HP12. Thought about the flavor for days, literally. and that started my deep interest in scotch whisky. Now, I'm all about it. Read 101 whiskys to try before you die. Been to all the websites. Learned about the different scotch regions. more websites, reviews, videos, tastings etc etc etc. My mind is still blown by scotch whisky. 

I imagine everyone knows about Highland Park by now. If not, check out thier website, it's fantastic. Lots of great info/videos, very well done. One bit of info that was particularly useful to me was about the peat they use. Being a rookie, I thought all peat was the same. Very much not true. The island of Orkney (the location of the Highland Park Distillery) Is the northern most Distilling Island in Scotland. There are no trees. So, the peat they use is made up of mostly heather, attributing to the different character of the smokey peat in HP.

Purchase Price: 32.99$

 Nose: At first, I simply got a ton of smoke, (remember, I'm new) and if I focused I could smell sweet light heather honey (yep, got that from the website). As I've continued to enjoy the bottle, my nosing has changed quite a bit. Now, if I hold the glass upright, I still get hints of smoke, but when tilting the glass and nosing, the smoke becomes very subtle. I have to look for it a bit. What I do get now is this:

Slightly smokey, a little bit of the original heathery honey, and really nice salty caramel, and a little something else, sea air? Nah, probably searching a bit there, but something.

Taste: I'm not very good at this one. Surprisingly sweet on the entry, still salt caramel, and a rich flavor, can't pinpoint. Sausage? Really pleasant smoke in the nose while chewing and exhaling.

Finish: Awesome. Nutty, Coffee, lingering hints of salty sweet.

Conclusion. I love it. Favorite whisky right now. Definitely recommend.

Comments welcome, I'm a rookie, I really don't know what I'm talking about, and don't want to get in the habit of taking myself to seriously.


  1. I hate the stuff but enjoy learning about different spirits. Keep up the good work! Nice review.

  2. Highland Park is my dad's favorite as well. I personally don't care for the stuff, but Joe likes it. I enjoyed your review though!

  3. Highland Park is my dad's favorite as well. I personally don't care for the stuff, but Joe likes it. I enjoyed your review though!

  4. Nice blog! :) Thanks for the review. I like some whiskey neat, but haven't done any tastings. I'll have to look for this brand and give it a try. Subscribing to your blog now too. :)

  5. Thanks for all the comments! If your thinking of getting into nosing whisky neat, what has really helped me is using a Glencarin nosing glass. Amazon has them here:

    Makes a big difference. At the end of our tour at Stranahan's, we were allowed to nose the whiskey from a Glencarin glass before tasting from the throw away plastic taster glasses. Stay tuned for more reviews!

  6. Nice review on the highland park. i cant wait to try it myself!!