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Highland Park 12 yo – 15 yo

A combined review for the youngest expressions from Highland Park core range. It’s the best way to compare two similar malts with some interesting differences. Both expressions are a vatting of ex-sherry and ex-bourbon casks (a highest percentage of ex-bourbon for the 15 yo); the colour of both is a light gold (maybe the 15 yo is slightly darker).

Highland Park 12 yo (2011, OB, 40%)

N: the nose is quite fresh and floral (heather? Or is it a mere suggestion?). However, the flavours are rather shaded. Despite the low ABV, the alcohol is too much evident. A shy citrusy note (lemon, a bit of orange) is combined with the typical HP honey aroma. Almonds.

P: it’s very light (if only the ABV were higher…). We are describing nuances, not intense flavors. The sherry influence is more evident, with a faint note of tobacco and some fruit (apple). The floral side simply disappears, while the sweetness is completely focused on honey and citrus (does “orange honey” really exist?). Ultra-light smokiness towards the end, with an equally shy shade of minerality.  

F: not particularly long, with a vague sweetness and a weak spiciness.

Altogether it’s not bad, but it seems sadly watery. It’s drinkable and pleasant, but everything is faint and too weak. Considering the low price (30 euro), we give to this aperitif HP 81/100.

Highland Park 15 yo (2010, OB, 40%)

N: the flavours’ intensity is slightly stronger here: the floral note fades and the fruity side increases (yellow peaches?). There’s also a solid citrusness, with caramelized orange and lemon; the usual honey is present, but here you can find also vanilla (the American oak influence is greater) and maybe licorice. Warm butter and toffee. A subtle smokiness in the background.

P: the general scenario is just a little bit more intense comparing to the 12 yo. Here the fruit stands out, especially with candied oranges. It’s spicier (pepper), smokier and woodier than its younger brother, that showed a really weak palate. It moves towards a feeble bitterness. We’re still regretting a higher ABV…

F: not very long, the licorice outweighs; dried fruits and honey again.

The 15 yo is just slightly better than the 12 yo; a little more complex and structured, but they share a fault: after a soft but intriguing nose, they both show a weak palate. The two malts – both good, indeed – would benefit from a higher ABV. But we don’t work as master distillers at Highland Park, so we just register our evaluation: 83/100. Serge tasted different batches; here the comparison between the two whiskies by Jeff (he writes also about the 18 yo, that we reviewed here).

Recommended soundtrack: Cake – Long time, from Showroom of compassion.

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