Yet another tasting from a friend’s collection, Highland Park 12 is a revelation in a bottle. If you have ever judged a whisky by the year indicated on the bottle, then you are not considering some excellent products. The age is not the only consideration as the quality of the barrel lends considerable flavour to the whisky.
Highland Park is located in the Orkney Islands, a remote part of the world north of Scotland. This distillery is the northernmost In the Highlands. Highland Park uses ex-sherry barrels made of American and European oak. The peat used is of a local variety and is known to be more sweet that those used on Islay. This sweetness mixes in with the smoke and lends its impression to the final product.
The colour is light gold and this whisky, sold at 40% alcohol by volume, smells of peat and seaweed. I’ll add that citrus plays a good part in the experience and makes for a rich preview.
On the palate, the peat comes through along with the citrus, but a soft milk chocolately flavour can be detected somewhere in the middle.
The finish is long and sweet. Some nut and wood at first, with peat mixing in and ending in a fruity experience that lasts until the final impression evaporates.
Adding water brings out some smoke on the nose and enhances the citrus on the palate. The smoke comes through on the palate as well, but some nut and fruity sweetness appear as well. The finish continues to be sweet, nutty, and woody. That milk chocolate turns into hazelnut spread. Quite satisfying.
Overall, this is a whisky that surprises on all levels. The smoke and peat are balanced with fruity sweetness and citrus, making for an experience that will make you want to try the other offerings in the range (a considerable variety is offered by this impressive distillery). The 12 year old is great for every day drinking and will not disappoint your guests.