The entry level in Highland Park’s core lineup is their 12-year-old expression. It is a single malt comprised of a blend of whiskies aged in first and refill ex-Oloroso sherry casks. From the color (I’m assuming they are not adding a lot of caramel color here, if any.) and taste of the whisky, refill casks make up the majority of this blend. Highland Park Dark Origins, the newest member of the distillery’s core lineup, uses twice the amount of first-fill sherry casks. It’s bottled here in the United States at 43% abv.
On the nose, there’s a nice sweetness. I get honey, pear, a floral note, along with a sweet peat. It is my understanding the peat in Orkney, where the distillery is located, has no wood and is mostly decomposed heather. This whisky is medium-bodied. The entry is malty with a sweet & sour note, almost like honey, followed by heathery peat, spice, and a touch of sweet smoke. The sweet honeyed malt of the palate continues, turning somewhat dry.
Highland Park 12-year-old isn’t horribly complex. However it is an enjoyable, easy-to-drink whisky. The sweet entry turning dry in the finish is nice. I’d heartily recommend this as one to keep handy for when company is over, or if you’re new to Scotch and are looking for something more challenging than a “starter” Scotch like Glenlivet or Glenfiddich. A bottle of Highland Park 12-year-old whisky should run between $45-$50.