Highland Park Scotch Whisky Review

Bottles and glasses of Scotch malt whisky ready for sampling by visitors in the 'Tasting Room' of the Highland Park whisky distillery.
Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / Contributor/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Highland Park is one of the greats of the Scotch industry and any of their bottlings are ideal for whiskey connoisseurs to explore. Each of the three expressions of Highland Park Scotch tried are spectacular and wonderful examples of the entire portfolio. Highland Park distills their single malt Scotch from hand-turned malt, a considerably aromatic peat and uses coll maturation in sherry oak casks to finish them off.

In total, the distillery produces seven expressions of Scotch to date in the Orkney distillery that was established in 1798.

12-Year-Old Highland Park Scotch Whisky

Highland Park's 12-year-old may be the youngest of the portfolio, but it is in no way unexceptional. This is an ideal mixing Scotch, bringing balance, richness, and a deep flavor to favorite cocktails like the Rusty Nail and Affinity. As a base expression of the lot, this one is spectacular, fulfilling and a simply wonderful experience.

Tasting Notes

Opens with the sweet and smoky fragrance of peat with notes of honey and fruit. The palate is exceptionally smooth and light, with a bright, velvet texture and a subtle smokiness, a rich malt background and delightful tones of light butterscotch. It finishes in a sweet and smooth lusciousness that is superiorly calming and slightly warming while it fades rather fast, but not too fast.

  • First released in 1979.
  • Retails for around $42/750ml bottle
  • Double Gold at the 2005 and 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • Gold Medal winner – International Spirits Challenge 2006

18-Year-Old Highland Park Scotch Whisky

The 18-year-old produced by Highland Park is one of the best in the world, without a doubt, and has been considered so since the first bottle was released.

This is simply a stunning Scotch, balanced with rich flavors, the perfect amount of peat and a delicious, sweet oak. There is not much more to say than if you consider yourself a whiskey lover and have not tried this bottle, you are missing out on a specimen of immaculate design.

Tasting Notes

The 18-year-old has a beautiful fragrance that screams deliciousness, complete with notes of toffee, oak, and a lovely and luscious peat. The entry is superiorly smooth and the palate is that of peat mixed with rich honey. A fine, velvety finish leaves the palate with a fantastic amount of smoke with wisps of more toffee sweetness.

  • First released in 1997.
  • Retails for around $99/750ml bottle
  • Gold Medal at the 2006 International Wine and Spirits Competition
  • Gold Medal at the 2004 International Spirits Challenge
  • “Best Spirit in the World” F. Paul Pacult, Spirit Journal June 2005

40-Year-Old Highland Park Scotch Whisky

A warm and inviting example of Scotch, this 40-year-old from Highland Park is simply a lovely example that is not too peaty, not too oaky, not too smoky, but perfectly balanced. Of course, at $2000 a bottle it's not an everyday whiskey, but it is an elegant indulgence and simply divine.

Tasting Notes

This very old Scotch has an extremely aromatic, warm oak to it that holds a complex array of dark chocolate and fruits along with spicy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg.

The lush palate is warm and soft, notes reminiscent of that original peat-oak mix with a rested velvet feel. More spectacular than anything is the finish, which is rich, robust and wonderfully balanced between the oak and peat and lingers quite awhile.

  • First released in 2008.
  • Retails for around $2000/750ml bottle

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