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Time for another whisky review I think. There four whiskies that I have reviewed so far have all been ones that I really like and if you have read them you will also know that they are Islay whiskies. An Islay whisky is made in a distillery on the small island of Islay of the West coast of Scotland and the Islay whiskies are usually very peaty and very smokey, these are the ones I like. In fact I very rarely drink whisky that is not made in Islay. However, there is an exception to the rule and that comes in the form of Highland Park which is what I will be reviewing today.
Highland Park is made in the distillery on Kirkwall which is one of the Orkney Islands located north of Scotland. This is quite unusual as there are not that many distilleries to be found that far north. Highland Park comes in many different forms but the standard version that you are likely to find in the Supermarket is the 12 year version and this is the version I will be reviewing today.
I have tried many different whiskies over the years and usually when I am looking for a peaty flavour I don't look anywhere else than Islay. The fact is though that there are a few other whiskies that have that lovely peat taste, Highland Park is one of these. It would be easy to mistake this for an Islay as much about it is very similar, that probably the main reason why I enjoy it so much.
So first of all something that does not affect the taste but is in some ways important. The box it comes in. This one is black and oval rather than the usual circular or square box, that makes it a little bit more interesting and of all the whisky containers you see I think it is one of my favourites.
The important bit next, the whisky itself. The colour is quite dark, very dark in fact. When you smell it you get subtle hints of spice and even flowers. Then when you take a sip you are hit with the heavy peat flavour, this one is not a smoky as some but that is still in evidence. The finish is not as smooth as I would like but it certainly still very good, long and peaty with lots of complex flavours coming through. This is one that leaves you feeling very satisfied.
Highland Park comes in at 40% so it's not overly strong compared to some others you can get. When it comes to price it's not usually bad value, I had a look online and it seems to go for around the £26 mark, although I have bought it as cheap as £22 when it been on offer in the supermarket. So when it comes to price and value Highland Park certainly gets a big thumbs up.
So overall I would say this is a very nice whisky indeed. It makes it into my top ten which takes some doing and it is one that I've bought a few times already and will probably buy again in the future. If you are into your Islay whiskies and have not tried this one then I urge you to give it a go as you will pleasantly surprised. For all round price and value it's good and the taste is excellent, so overall a very good whisky.
Everyone likes a drink or two. Well, I know not everyone, but everybody that I know and spend time with will at least have a beer or two every few days, and usually significantly more than that. Having lived abroad a few times and meeting people from all over Europe and having friends who have done the same, however, has alerted me to the fact that most countries don't drink as much as we Brits do. Some people may find that cause for concern but I am included among the people for whom that fact inspires a sense of pride in being from the United Kingdom. We do know how to have fun. While you would imagine Germany to be the same, they don't drink in the same way as we do. Here in Bavaria there is obviously a large selection of beer and every restaurant and pub will serve as much light, dark and wheat beer as you'd like as well as wine, but spirits are harder to come by. Considering that I used to live in Edinburgh, where each pub had a decent at least whisky selection, as well as always have a couple of bottles of my own at home, the limited access to single malt here has been a saddening reality. I've particularly missed drinking my three favourite whiskies, one of which I'll be reviewing today.
== Highland Park 12-Year-Old==
Now, I'll never claim to be a whisky expert, but I do know what I like. While that tends to be island malts, I'm unfussy as to whether they're peaty or smoky and will happily try anything and continue to drink it if I like it. Highland Park is an island malt from Orkney and is probably one of the best-known Scottish whiskies. While it is a bit of an all rounder and is one that will appeal more to occasionally whisky drinkers than to connoisseurs, I have to say that it is one of my favourites. My boyfriend's parents live in Orkney and so this has been a popular and gratefully received present over the past few years. The box that it comes in is black, making it stand out on a shelf or in a cupboard, with the bottle being wide yet shallow and certainly a distinctive shape.
== What I Thought ==
As I said, this is a lovely whisky and is one that I will buy in a shop or order in a pub quite often. It is smoky but not overly so and is pleasant to taste. It's also not strong tasting despite it having an alcohol content average for whiskies (around 40%), which means that it's also easy to drink. It sounds a bit bizarre but in many ways I consider the taste of Highland Park 12 year old to be the archetypal taste of whisky and that anything else is a variation thereupon. This is probably due to it being the first whisky that I properly enjoyed and drank regularly and is not a feeling that I imagine anyone else shares. It has a lovely taste and is smooth to drink. Highland Park themselves say that it has a honey sweetness and fruity element and I have to say that I agree with this, as honey is a flavour that I definitely do get from this whisky.
== Conclusion ==
This is one of my top three whiskies, as I said earlier, and I believe it to be a good starting point for someone trying to get a taste for single malts as well as for frequent whisky drinkers. It's a whisky that I imagine will always have a place in my drinks cupboard when I have one again, and I also doubt that I'll ever get tired of this malt. As it is a twelve-year-old malt, it is also very reasonably priced at around £30 for a 70ml bottle. This is the youngest whisky that Highland Park do as part of their core range and there are whiskies available up to 40 years old, although this will set you back £920 per bottle if you order from their website. Should I find myself particularly wealthy at some point then I would happily give the older whiskies a try (the 21 year old is more affordable at £100) but, while I'm on a limited budget or even if I did have more money available, I am delighted to drink the twelve-year-old variety. I find that there is more variety between different distilleries than there is between different ages of the same whisky and so would rather have a broader range of young whiskies than a couple of more aged bottles. But I digress - this is a lovely whisky that should please whisky novices and experts alike. It is lightly smoky but not so much that it would put off people unused to the flavour. Highly recommended whisky.
This is currently one of my favorite whiskys. Not one that has ever appealed before but took a chance on it and am glad I did.
Deliciously satisfying, viciously complex. Functions well as a daily drink, as well as it makes a good favorite among other 12 year olds on an in-deep whisky tasting. This one is known for being the greatest all-rounder in the world of whisky, and it's not for nothing. Spectacular.
As for the taste, well its smoke and peat come through nicely without being overwhelming; malty caramel; hints of dark chocolate ; some sea salt, all fit together nicely to make this a wonderful smoothy whisky.
As for value its head and shoulders above anything else in its price range, and it stands toe to toe with more expensive great whiskys like Oban and Talisker.
Highland Park is medium amber in colour, and is one of the smoothest whisky's I have tasted. Also available are 15, 18 and 21 year old versions, which I must admit am yet to sample but if this one is anything to go by I am sure they are well worth splashing out on!
And the bottle is quite nice as well! I know rhis should not matter to real whisky drinkers but I always think it adds to the drink if you like the bottle and flask it comes in!
I often find with most whiskys adding a tiny bit of water just till the whisky goes cloudy can enhance the flavor, and I would say that this is again the case with this whisky! Give it a try.
All round an excellent Whisky, would definately recommend this to anyone, either new whisky drinkers or people who have been drinking whicky all there lives!
I can't fault it for anything, other than that the bottle has a bottom.
When it comes to single malt whisky the selection and variety is huge, with many of them having fine reputations. I've sampled many a fine malt whisky and this is one of my favourites.
The Highland Park distillery is situated in Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland. It is actually the northernmost distillery in the world. The distillery was founded in the 1790's and would have operated illegally at the beginning.
The 12 year old malt has a reputation for being a good 'all-rounder' with a balance of attributes found in other whiskys. It is perhaps a good starting point for people who have not experienced single malt before.
When poured into the glass you can see the colour of it is very light amber and the smell is rather striking. I like to serve my drink with some chilled Scottish spring water.
The taste of this whisky is very smooth, mellow, spicy, with a light taste of peat. A fruity after taste is experienced and lingers long in the mouth. In my opinion this drop offers a complete well rounded flavour that can't be found in many other malts.
A 70cl bottle of this liquid can be purchased from all the big supermarkets and whisky outlets and is priced at around 20-30 British pounds.
Firstly lets clear up any confusion. Whisky takes two forms. The first and real form is malt whisky. The second is blended whisky, which is what most people have tasted once, spat or dribbled down their shirts/blouse and vowed never to touch again. (like a fine Sancerre v's liebfaumilch) Malt whisky is like fine wine, there are loads of types with different tastes, aromas and history. If you have never tasted malt whisky try it, you never know you might love it. Anyway, Highland Park is one of my big favourites. It has a very strong flavour, a mixture of seaweed, salt and peat (which sounds awful) but is actually delicious. A little known fact about whisky is that it tastes much nicer when drunk out in the open. Hip flasks did not just happen by accident. Nothing is nicer when out on a walk or playing a round of golf, to have a small nip, enjoy the smooth flavours as they wash over you, feel the warmth flow through your body and savour the uplift in your outlook on life. Highland Park is one of the more expensive brands and is probably the best known of the Orkney malts. The distillery was established over 220 years ago and they have perfected the knack of producing a fantastic tipple.
Well, there I was, wandering into Dooyoo with the intention of posting an opinion about Glenfiddich, only to discover that the category doesn’t let you write one! I wondered why the “Speyside Whisky” category was so sparsely populated and now I know. Let’s hope that gets sorted out at some point so we can all dive in and fill it up. So, here I am, trekking north to the Orkney Isles, where Highland Park is the better known (in England anyway) of the two malts. I have never seen Orkney’s other malt, Scapa, on sale and have never tried it so I can’t give you an opinion on it, but I will look out for it and hope to have a taste at some time in my life. The first thing I love about Highland Park is the name. I know that shouldn’t really be particularly important – if it tasted horrible then the name wouldn’t save it – but it gives a strong sense of majesty to which the drink itself certainly lives up. The wild, isolated and rugged connotations of “Highland” contrast perfectly with the more sedate, regulated and regal images of “Park”. The taste is similarly balanced and contrasting. There is a sort of sweet, very subtle, smokiness to it which I have not encountered (so far) in any other malt. As personal tastes go, I am a big fan of smoky flavours so this is the aspect of Highland Park which I particularly enjoy. There is also, however, a hint of what I would call “floweriness” - not a very professional-sounding term, but it’s what comes to mind when I smell and taste Highland Park. By “floweriness” I mean a type of sweetness that is fragrant and gentle, not intrusive and sickly. It is a little bit peaty, too, but none of these flavours overpower the others – all are subtle and are brought out more by the mood of the drinker than by any imbalance in the drink. Highland Park, along with Bunnahabhain and The Famous Gr
ouse (hmmm... bit of a contrast there) and a few others which I can’t at the moment remember, are owned by Highland Distilleries, but I have heard the tale that Highland Park started out as an illegal smuggling operation organised by a Presbyterian minister who used his church pulpit to stash his dodgy wares. This is the sort of story which appeals to me and is one of the reasons why I developed an interest in malt whisky. Malt whisky is not just a drink but an experience, and the historical part of that experience has great attractions for me. On the downside, Highland Park tends to be more expensive than most other malts. One-off, very old bottles of it crop up occasionally at well over a thousand quid, which might be OK for a serious collector but it does mean that no-one has ever had the pleasure of drinking it. For a recently bottled, 12 year old Highland Park, however, you would still pay several pounds more than you would for most other similarly aged malts. I confess I don’t know why this is, but I do know that once you have a taste of Highland Park, the price doesn’t seem quite so important.
I did have the very best job in the world – in the eyes of many people, particularly those of Scottish descent. Indeed at one time, when I had delivered a short talk on my knowledge of Malt Whisky to a group of the medical profession about this particular topic, at the end a large bearded fellow stood up and spoke. He started by saying: “That wirr a verra interesting shpeil, Maister Gee, but Ah think Ah Speke fur us a’ here whun Ai say that it’s BLUDDY DISCUGUSTING that a bluiddy gorballing Sassenach heathen fra Wales has to cum up hier to Scorttland and tell us all about Whusky – an git the pleasure o’ drinking the stuff fur free too !!!!!” It was said with such vehemence and fire, that you really needed to see the twinkle in his eye.... You see, one of my responsibilities, as the Edinburgh City Analyst/Public Analyst (from 1980 to 1996) was that I was authorised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to sign export certificates, so that foods and drink exported from the United Kingdom to other parts of the world would be accepted by the governments of that country. Before I could sign my name on a certificate, the food or drink had to be analysed by the Laboratory which was under my control and direction and, naturally, I personally would have to satisfy myself as to the 'organoleptic characteristics' of that product before I could sign the certificate, as well as ensure that the quality of the analytical results were appropriate. I was appointed as Public Analyst for Lothian, Borders and Highland regions and the Orkney and Shetland Islands. Neither Borders Region nor the Shetland Islands produce Scotch Whisky. The other areas DOO ! Each year between 50 and 290 bottles of Scotch whisky (we never quite made the magic '300' total!) were analysed by this Laboratory for the purpose of preparing export certificates and I was R
16;authorised’ to TASTE them all. This is very important personal appointment, because most of the bottles came into the Laboratory without duty being paid on them, and STRICT controls had to be exerted to satisfy HM Customs & Excise. I should perhaps also explain that these whiskies were not your average blend variety. Oh no, such lesser spirits are strictly for the unsophisticated local (UK) markets. Even the ‘ordinary’ Genfiddich or Glenmorangie did not come our way very often. What we tended to receive for ‘analysis’ were the ‘better malts’ and the ‘De Luxe Blends’, many of which I will write about for DooYoo. I will not however include those sent to specific export markets. So, I first ‘met’ the products of the Highland Park Distillery, as part of my ‘professional’ duties, so to speak. As far as I am aware, this is the only Orchadian whisky and the 12 years’ old is one of my favourite malt whiskies. The flavour is subtle but complex, with an almost salty tang, and with only a trace (to my palate) of the Islay-phenolic after-taste. Highland Park has a robust flavour and stays in the palate for 2 –3 minutes after finishing your ‘dram’. All well and good, I hear you say, but why doo yo particularly favour Highland Park, rather than others ? Well, I will admit that I also use it as gravy - on ma haggis ! Ahh, the haggis !! I will here re-tell a little story from my third trip to Buenos Aires in March 1999. My favourite ‘watering hole’, the Druid In (a Celtic Pub/ restaurant) had just welcomed me and I had distributed my ‘Celtic gifts’ to the De Stephano brothers (who own the bar) and to the waiters/waitresses. I had ‘smuggled’ in a large MacSweens’ Haggis on my previous trip, to allow them to hold their first Burns Supper wit
h a ‘Real Haggis’ (rather than the appalling tined variety - which seemed to have the appearance of canned dog-food). I also had sent them a post-card in the shape of a Haggis, which was in pride of place behind the bar, and I had also brought them a copy of a Highland dress catalogue, since 'the bros' were thinking of getting themselves full kilt outfits. They were looking at the ‘sporran section’, and in particular a very large and very fine white sporran. “Of course”, I said (quite seriously). “That is from the Albino haggis. They are now raised on Haggis Farms and were verry rare, until the farmers found out how to breed them. “Most sporrans come from the normal ‘wild haggis’, a shy wee creature that inhabits the Bens and Braes of the Highlands. "Indeed, one of the initiation ceremonies for all young Scots is to serve as the ‘stoick wielder’ in a haggis hunt. “The stoick is a special sharpened weapon that is used for killing the haggis and does not damage the fur, so that the very best sporrans can still be made from the pelt. The Skein Dhu is used for ‘dressing the haggis’ and removing the pelt, and the Dirk for cutting up the haggis after cooking ....”, I said pointing very reverendly to the other Highland Dress accoutrements in the catalogue. I kept a 'straight face' and they took it all in (all very po-faced...)! I was able to leave them with those images, which they never questioned ..... Anyway, haggis is served with tatties and neaps (mashed potato and mashed swede/turnip).. The best gravy for haggis (as any Scotsman will tell you) is whisky -and the best whisky for this purpose is, in my opinion (having tried at least 30 different) is Highland Park 12 years old Malt Whisky. The persistent flavour combines well with the spicy fl
avour of the wee beastie ! Just you try it MacSween’s Haggis is certainly available from Safeways. And 'Highland Park Malt Whisky' is now commonly available. I seem to recall that a survey of Malt Whisky around Xmas 2000 reckoned that Highland Park was ‘among the best’. I wouldn’t ever consider that one Malt whisky could ever be described as THE best, but you cannot go far wrong than to buy a bottle of THIS malt whisky. It will also look good in your booze cabinet, the squat bottle with the wide neck, just seems to ask you to open it.... Strength 40% VOL Copyright Sidneygee 2001
Located on the Orkney Isles, one of the northernmost parts of Scotland, is the Highland Park Distillery. Founded on these remote islands in 1798, the distillery has for two centuries produced a full flavoured, single malt Scotch Whisky. Made from the best barley malted over peat fires; merged with the unique spring waters of the island; and aged in casks for a minimum of twelve years that shape its rare and very distinctive character.