Highland Park 12 Year (1980s Bottling)

Scotch Whisky Review #190: Highland Park 12 Year (1980s Bottling)

Distillery: Highland Park

Region: Orkney Island

Price: $27 for 2 oz.

ABV: 43%

Age: 12 Year

Color: 1.2, Chestnut/Oloroso Sherry.


Nose: (according to the wife) Lots of fresh fruits. There’s a bit of Chinese quince, a bit of pineapple, but it’s mostly dominated by apples. Crisp, tart, fresh apples.

Palate: Mouthfeel is very silky and on the thicker side of things. It’s rather smooth but there’s not a whole lot going on flavor-wise. There’s a little bit of lightly sweetened malt cereal and a singular tart apple note as it goes down.

Finish: On the short side of things. There’s a quick hit of smoke along with a tiny bit of malt cereal. Every so often there’s a very bitter iron note as well.

Conclusion: Highland Park has been an enigma for me. It’s a distillery whose bottlings are highly rated by most but I’ve never quite been able to understand. I had hoped that going for an older bottling might help but I can’t say it has. This 1980s bottling was rather boring for me with very little going on flavorwise in the palate and the super bitter iron note that appeared every few sips in the finish made this a little hard to finish. Perhaps there is something in the water from their water source that just doesn’t sit well with me, I know there are a few breweries I avoid because of something like that, but I guess that just means there will be more Highland Park for those who enjoy it to do so.

Final Score: 69.

Scotch Whisky Review #190, Island Review #28, Whisky Network Review #263


Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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