Complexity, Funk, and Nuanced Peat: Highland Park 12 Review
When it comes to single malt scotch, Highland Park 12 Year is a liquor store staple. I can’t recall ever being in a liquor store that carried any single malt scotch without HP12 being on the shelf. It’s a bit unusual region-wise as it’s from Orkney –and the northernmost distillery in Scotland. This one is an easy find at a reasonable price. But is it worth your time?
Medium gold color with good clarity. A turn gives light glass coating with widely-spaced legs. There’s not a lot to talk about here. It looks like a 12 year old scotch.
Immediate lemon-lime citrus with light caramel. The aroma is bright but not aggressive. You can really get your nose into it. There’s also slight iodine and peat that nearly crosses into medicinal smoke. There are also hints of something vinous –almost white wine-like.
Caramel sweetness up front transforms into soft leathery smoke with the same hints of iodine I found in the aroma. There’s a distinct funk here that might remind bourbon fans of Jim Beam. Also a hint of pinot grigio. Some nice black pepper features toward the end of the sip. Finishes with green oak and a touch of white truffle oil.
Moderate body. Just a bit oily. There’s no alcohol warmth –not unusual for an 86 proof whisky. The finish is moderate at best with not much lingering. Overall, the mouthfeel is really sort of uninteresting.
When it comes to lightly peated scotches, HP12 is a go-to for me. You get bits of the iodine and and smoke you’d expect from an Islay but none of the salt (If you actually like the salt but the hate the peat, Bunnahabhain 12 is the one to try). Further, it’s a plenty complex dram even ignoring the peat characteristics. And being a Jim Beam fan, the funkiness makes it feel familiar and welcoming.