Highland Park 12 Year (Highlands – Orkney) – 43% ABV – $80.20 CAD (LCBO)
Nose: Subtle in its complexity… Sweet toffee is evident, with a sense of subtle campfire smoke. Light heather and grassy notes blend into the floral. It finishes with a sense of minerality and sea salt.
Palate: Sweet toffee. Immediate smokiness that dissipates quickly. Dry, grassy, heather notes remain. Oaky, peppery spice and light chocolate emerge through the development.
Finish: Decently long but not particularly complex. The white pepper spice and oaky notes linger with the residual toffee sweetness.
Highland Park is a distillery that often leaves me scratching my head a bit. I get the sense that there’s something more to their whiskies that I just don’t get, and that it’s holding back my appreciation for them somewhat.
I enjoy their products in general, and the 12 year old is no exception, but they also leave me wanting something a little more. In this case I really was hoping for a little bit more sherry influence out of a product that is supposed to be largely (if not entirely) sherry aged. Maybe it’s batch variation, or maybe it’s just my own tasting inadequacies, but I just get none of it. If I could pick up on more of that influence I feel as though it would take the 12 year old from a “good” whisky to an “excellent” one, with that little extra depth of flavour.
As it stands, for me, the 12 year old expression is a nice next step up from an entry-level single malt, into a world of slightly more complexity, if not depth. A bottle I’m happy to have on my bar, but not one that I’m necessarily going to be desperately rushing out to replace when it’s empty.