Highland Park 12yr. 750mL

Hello and welcome, we are Honest Booze Reviews. we began this journey across many sites, and in many formats. Here though we’ll be staying for a while and creating a new site continuing our ideal of what reviews of spirits should be. Honest – brutally so. As such we began with a 12 year scotch, which we tear to pieces for being so average. If you’d like to see what we’re on about visit out Welcome Page.


Before we move onto tonight’s selection of spirits I wish to give an explanation of how Honest Booze Reviews will work in the future. Now our expert panel of 4 reviewers namely myself, DJ Lvl, William Henri Neve the IV, and a man we call Justice, will enjoy a few glasses of the liquor, and record both our thoughts and a score based on a few metrics in order to gauge the quality of what we review. We then give our own personal scores with some final thoughts. Now as a further note our scores and reviews are not based on alcohol in general but in its class. In this way reviews of say a high-shelf vodka are not rated based on how it compares to a fine scotch or some dreadful gin, but to other vodkas. During the review a selected person will transcribe notes and scores and later writes a review. In this way reviews are written using the transcripts and the personal reviewer’s style.

For our first week of Honest Booze Reviews we’ve decided that things should be done right. Our review this week is for Highland Park 12 Year Scotch. Highland Park Scotch distilled by Highland Park Distillery, Kirkwall in Orkney, is the most northerly whisky distillery in Scotland. Highland Park despite its name is actually an Island Scotch which are normally grouped under Highland Scotches, but with similar ties to Islay Scotch. For the uninitiated and uneducated Highland Scotchs are usually a darker and more common scotch taste while Islay is a lot peat’er and has a more woody taste. A simple explanation of Highland 12yr is that of a standard Highland Scotch, no frills or fancy tricks but still Scotch.

Highland Park 12yr goes down smoothly as most scotches do, and the aftertaste is truly the defining point of the scotch. The initial taste is of a standard scotch, yet there is a short almost sharp yet odd wood taste before the onset of the aftertaste that compared to most scotch feels unnatural. The smoked wood then really begins to kick in to give a nice slow long aftertaste of a great scotch flavor.

Highland Park despite being a scotch isn’t stellar, the smell and taste are what you would consider standard for a scotch. Having personally tasted the 18yr version of Highland Park I can say that for Highland Park spending a lot more and getting the more mature version is how you want to do it.

What they say: “Highland Park takes its name from the High Park area on the outskirts of Kirkwall Orkney, where in 1798, Magnus Eunson began distilling illegal whisky. A local smuggler, Magnus would hide the forbidden spirit under the pulpit of the church.” Now most scotchs talk about the beautiful landscape and pristine water and peat that goes into their spirits yet Highland seems to a more colorful history worth mentioning which all of us considered to be quite funny and especially manly.


Taste: 6 – While pleasant, in comparison to other scotches Highland is sadly a middle child and provides none of the true magic that some scotches can give.

Aftertaste: 7.5 – The only true defining feature of Highland is the nice long warmth and wood taste that it leaves you with.

Burn/Smoothness: 8 – As standard for Highland Scotches this goes down nice and smooth.

Aroma: 6.5 – Unlike most scotches a whiff of Highland doesn’t give you the impression that what you are about to drink is fantastic, and for scotches the smell of it swilling in your glass is essential.

Honesty: 7.5 – Because of a lack of burn, and a moot taste this scotch only gains higher marks based on the back of the bottle and the tale of Magnus Eunson

Mixability: N/A – Mixed with Amaretto the taste was terrible, the scotch instead of blending fought against the Amartetto  (whereas some scotches mix rather well) we’ve given it an N/A because we couldn’t mix with Drambuie but with its initial taste being so unremarkable I doubt it would mix well at all.

Value: 6 – Normally priced around $55 for a 750mL While most scotches require you to break the $65 barrier Highland gives you a scotch for a more reasonable price. However there are not only other scotches for comparable prices of higher quality but if your a truly someone looking for a scotch price is usually not a factor as long as it’s below the $100 mark.

Google Shop Average: $55

Website: http://www.highlandpark.co.uk/


Reviewer Scores:

DJ Lvl: 6

Buffalo Jern: 6.5

William Henri Neve the IV: 6.5

Justice: 7

Want to compare this spirit against our archives? Visit our statistics page.

Total: 41.5/60 |+| Metric Average 6.91 |+| Reviewer Average 6.5

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Final Thoughts: It’s a scotch; it’s a good solid scotch, the kind of scotch that your everyday person would have for himself in his office, but definitely not something you’d enjoy for special occasions, and that’s a problem. Scotch is meant to embody the smell of the crisp Scottish air, the taste of aged forests and peaty bogs, the warmth in the cockles of your heart as you enter the Scottish Highlands. I don’t think there’s a scotch that is bad, but there definitely scotches that don’t remind me of my true home.

Cheers mates.


I am the Buffalo editor and curator of Honest Booze Reviews

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