Highland Park 12 Review

Highland Park 12 years Review

Highland Park 12 is made on the island of Orkney using whisky aged for at least 12 years in ex-Oloroso sherry casks and ex-Bourbon casks. From multiple sources online it seems like the ratio of those casks is 9:1 meaning that it’s about 10% bourbon casks in each batch. There is no official word from the distillery so consider the info with that caveat.

Highland Park 12 Info

Region: Islands, Scotland

Distiller: Highland Park
Mashbill: 100% malted barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon & ex-Sherry
Age: 12 years
ABV: 43%

Price: $50*

Highland Park 12 Review


Toffee, char, dried dark fruit, chocolate licorice, malt, Nutella, oranges and a touch of smoke. It’s a pleasant nose, but I have to be honest… it’s not what the 12 used to be. If you’ve ever had the old slope shoulder or not-very-old round bottle you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Malt, cocoa and dried dark fruit lead the way followed by notes of peat, orchard fruit, char, apricots, some inky sherry-like sweetness and grilled fruit. I feel the same way about the palate as I do the nose.

Long and fruity punctuated by notes of char, malt, smoke and wood.

Decent balance, medium body and a rich heavy feel.

Highland Park 12 is a fine dram, but I have to say that it’s noticably changed over the years, but there’s no use crying over dusty whisky because it’s gone and this is what it is now and… it’s not bad. It’s a decent single malt with a lot to offer and it comes in at the upper end of the average price for a 12yr old Scotch these days. It works well in cocktails and the dark heavy nose and palate make for a pleasant sipper.

All-in-all it is a decent whisky and has been one of my favorites on and off over the last few years. I’ll get a bottle, get obsessed, drink only it till it’s gone then move on until I get the craving again and repeat the process. It’s a weird cycle that happens with Highland Park 12 (and a couple other bottles) yet it’s not one of my favorite whiskies. It’s good for sure, and I love it while I have it, but as soon as I’m done I move on. It’s not one I HAVE to keep in the house, but one I enjoy thoroughly when it is.

SCORE: 86/100

*Disclosure: This HIghland Park 12 was graciously sent to me by the company for the purposes of this review. The views, opinions, and tasting notes are 100% my own.
Highland Park 12 Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 87
  • Palate - 86
  • Finish - 85
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 87


Highland Park 12 is on the upper end of average for 12 yr whisky these days and as such it’s not a bad buy.

Highland Park 12 years Label


Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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19 Responses to Highland Park 12 Review

  1. I think this is a great “everyday dram,” and a solid choice for helping ease newcomers into Scotch whisky, since it’s got a little bit of everything. Prices seem to be creeping up a bit, but I suppose that’s the case with most whiskies.

  2. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of HP over the years…Of their 3 main expressions (12yr, 15 yr, 18 yr) I’ve enjoyed the 15 yr the most…Too bad it’s hard to find, and getting pricey.

  3. I’ve heard good things about this brand but have yet to try it. I’ve only recently gotten curious into trying different scotches to find what I like. This one pops up a lot so I might have to pick up a bottle.

    • It’s really a decent pour and I’ve heard a rumor they’ll be getting rid of it sometime in lieu of a NAS version. I don’t know if that’s just a rumor or not, but I’d snag one if you haven’t tried it yet.

  4. Why list it at 46% when the old and new bottlings of HP 12 are 43% ABV. Have fortunately found a local shop here in southeast Florida that has procured a few cases of the old bottlings of HP 12 which it is selling at $41 a bottle. Love this single malt.

  5. If you get a chance try hp12 when Russel Anderson was master distillery. Thicker, richer, someone told me it was sherry casks were better quality, and that was only 2011 and earlier

  6. I am more of a Bourbon drinker but have recently expanded my horizons into the Scotch realm. I am not opposed to blends but to date have only drank single malt. I have a bottle of Macallan 12 and 18, Balvenie 12 Doublewood. All good but looking for something with a bit more of Islay characteristics without being overpowering. I recently finished a bottle of HP12 which I enjoyed. The iodine in the Lagavulin 16 is a bit much for me at this point so looking for something a bit tamer. I am considering Talisker 10 and Bowmore 12.Any comments on these or any other recommendations? I would have no problem buying another bottle of HP 12 but would like to at least try a few others first. Prefer to stay under $100 if at all possible. Thanks.

  7. I went to try my first owned bottle of whisky that I won in a golf competition last month. For some reason I didn’t recongnise the shape of the bottle from when I had a bar job. I’ve now come to find out that I have a bottle of the round hp12. Is this worth keeping a hold of? It’s still unopened and the box is in ok condition.

  8. They appear to have relaunched the Highland Park 12, at least here in Japan. I recently picked up a bottle of “Highland Park 12 Viking Honour” – fabulous bottle design and box. HP 12 was for years one of my top 5 whiskies, especially in the old slope-shouldered midnight-sun labelled days. Around 2013 I noticed a distinct drop in the wow factor – and hated that medicine bottle design, especially the label (works great for Bulleit, but not HP).
    Working on this new version I’d venture that it’s getting back to form. It still hasn’t quite recaptured the richness, depth and sheer élan of the old 12, but the the HP boys and girls have probably been putting a lot of the good stuff into the ridiculously priced, albeit beautifully packaged Norse Mythology series.

  9. Oh, and you’ll be delighted to know that the HP 12 Viking Honour has that same real cork screw top stopper that you liked in the Fire/Ice review. Why is that little twist so satisfying?

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