Info: I bought a bottle for christmas as I really like Highland Park when I’m not in the mood for Islay and the 12 is a nice all around crowd pleaser. I have had it again and again over the last years and while I was posting some of my older Highland Park reviews, I saw my review of the HP12 from more than two years ago and hence I figured it will be fun to have a new review of the rebranded HP 12 side by side with a review from two years and about 200 reviews ago. Bear in mind that this is not (!) a side by side of the old and new bottling and that most if not all of potential difference are most likely due to me and my tastebuds changed and that I had one or two drams in between which might changed my perception and preferences a wee little bit…
Highland Park | 12 Viking Honour | 40% | No Color added | I think it’s about 10% Bourbon and 90% (refill) Sherry Casks but that’s not official |
Situation: Sitting on the couch and watching telly with the wife
Nose: Heather, light sulphur and smoke like a freshly lit match, leather and tobacco. Some malt, some nuts, some leather and some peat and smoke. A bit more flat than I remember, though my notes my seem otherwise, there are just hints of the above with a little bit of everything thrown in.
Taste: Soft entry, artificial fruit gums, some red fruits, vanilla, remarkable oaky, burned wood, hazelnuts, a wee bit of bitter peat and bonfire smoke. A bit flat to be honest and I think I recall the Sherry influence being more dominant with my old bottle, but it might be just memories.
Finish: Chocolate, oak, some slightly bitter smoke, heather, cocoa, coconut sprinkles, a creamy mouthfeel stays relatively long
Conclusion: Still good, though the palate seems a bit flat. Still a nice all around Scotch with some Sherry and some smoke, quite similar to the Bowmore 12 on many levels – which, in case you wonder, I also like and which will always be dear to me as it was the first bottle I bought myself. However, I feel like the Sherry influence is a bit lesser than it used to be, but than again, it might be just my perception beating a dead horse that the quality of casks and hence whisky has gone down and the Scotch world will soon end blah blah blah. Or maybe it’s because I liked the more subtle viking branding much more than the new VIKING VIKING VIKING VIKING dilly dilly marketing. Or maybe I was more easily impressed two years ago…I guess we’ll never know.
Here’s the two year old review – I didn’t change a word, just deleted the introductory mumbojumbo. To be clear: I did not read the older one before I wrote the new one and I did not have the drams side by side.
Sitaution: Sitting on the sofa, listening to Bebo & Chigala’s Lagrimas Negras at the end of a nice day
Nose: Soapy, almost bitter after all those bourbons I had lately [I started reviewing this before the Talisker…], some grapes, light sherry notes. Initially the nose is rather weak, I really have to dig my nose into the Glencairn to get hints. But it shows a nice development over the twenty minutes it rested. Now there is Vanilla, brown sugar, a weak note of brine, dark fruits, leather or tobacco leafs as well as a citrus/orange note
Palate: Oloroso-cask influence is very prominent, dark chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, some saltiness as well as smoke and toffee
Finish: Nice dark chocolate almost like those coffe-choclate bonbons with chocolate on the outside and a runny mocha core, smoke, dry and salty notes close the finish
Conclusion: Wow, this one took me by surprise! I really, really enjoyed the finish! As this one is recommended quite often I expected a (boring) crowd pleaser and in a way the Highland Park 12 is that but not “just that” but you know, that. It pleased me quite much as well as it did to many scotchdrinkers before. It isn’t overly complex but far from being too simple. Yes, it is very well rounded and not very in your face smoke or sherry but it’s good nay very good everyday drinker which fits many situations!
Would I buy it again?: Yeah, probably. It is a nice alternative to the Bowmore 12 with which it shares a few similarities.
Final words: Seems like the younger me liked the older HP12 better, but like I said above that has very likely to do with my development and not changes in the whisky. Or maybe both. Who knows. There are still many features which seemed to be very similar and beside the “very prominent Oloroso influence” the older and newer review are quite similar, although it really seems – again judged on my words not on the whisky! – that the Sherry influence was more present in palate and finish of the older version. Which, again, could very well be me being more easily impressed at that stage of my journey…