|The Whisky Cabinet
The challenge: To build a library of Whisky (primarily single malt Scotch) that will appeal to a broad range of tastes and budgets. The stakes: A budget of $150 each month to spend at the LCBO. The reward: Better understanding of the breadth of whiskys available. This week I taste the Highland Park 12..
Highland Park 12
For the Whisky Cabinet I picked out the Highland Park 12, which retails for just under $60 at the LCBO. In the area of aging, Highland Park gives you almost too many choices. There’s also the 15 year old at $84.95 and the 18 year old for $139.95. I’ve had those three, and the 18-year is simply a better expression of the younger Scotch for a lot more money - whether or not it’s worth the money really depends on whether or not you have the money to spend. Lastly, you can pick up the 25 year old for $324.95 (note: I have yet to try this vintage).
As it’s been written many times over, Highland Park really is the perfect all-around expression of Scotch. The reason for this is its “cereal notes”: sweet (honey, dried fruits) and a slight, unoffensive peaty smokiness. If you are more of a novice Scotch drinker, you will definitely appreciate the 15 or 18 year old over the 12, as the latter has a bit more bite then newcomers tend to like. Still, the 12 year old is a fantastic value at $60 and can make for an excellent go-to Scotch.
The distillery itself is the most northern whisky distillery in all of Scotland, and was founded in 1798. They are one of the few distilleries to still malt their own barely. They also have a score of awards; their 18 year old is believed to be the best Scotch in the world and their 25 year single malt continues to win awards in whisky competitions.
It is worth noting that while other brands are taking risks and claiming key taste profiles (peaty, sweet, floral), Highland Park prefers to distill well-balanced, crowd-pleasing Scotches while still maintaining complexity. A whisky cabinet isn’t complete without at least 1 bottle from this distiller.
Budget remaing: $60.45
Highland Park 12 $59.95
Carry-over to next month: $0.50