Highland Park 25, (45.7%, 2012)

Highland Park 25, 45.7%
In my review of the 25 yo at 48.1% which kicked off this month I explained the uninteresting history of my relationship with the Highland Park 25. I was glad to discover that that bottling (from 2007 or 2008) did not disappoint. Here’s hoping that this 2012 release, which comes in a whopping great wooden box, is as good. Though this is being posted at the very end of the month, I tasted this right after the other so as to be able to compare them directly–as a result these notes will make constant reference to the other bottle.

Highland Park 25, 2012 Release (45.7%; from my own bottle)

Nose: Not quite as intensely sherried as the other. The citrus/apricot note is more apparent at the start and it’s generally brighter (in comparative terms, that is; this is still quite obviously sherried). No gunpowder here at all and far less smoke. With a minute or so of airing there’s toffee and golden raisins soaked in brandy and also an earthy note and the quintessential Highland Park floral peat. The raisins get more and more intense with time and that earthy note turns to pencil lead/graphite. More fruit in here too. With water there’s a vanilla/shortbread note and the fruit turns to fruit leather.

Palate: Very much as one the nose. Additionally, there’s some polished wood here, some rum-like notes (toffee and ripe banana) and more honey. Smoke emerges with time as does the leatheriness and there’s more spice too now (nutmeg, clove, cinnamon). The fruitiness expands with time and there’s a hint of peach here that I didn’t get in the other. More tannic with time too. Water does pull some brighter fruit out–there’s a hint of pineapple too now

Finish: Long. Again, it’s the citrus/apricot note that hangs on for a while and then the smoke joins it. With water the smoke is stronger on the finish (it’s not phenolic at all) and there’s some coarsely ground black pepper too now.

Comments: This is more refined than the 48.1% version to start. It’s quite reminiscent, actually, at first, of the lovely 40 yo that I had a couple of opportunities to taste early this Fall thanks to my friend Rich. I suspect there might be more American oak casks in this one. With time, however, it comes closer to its 25 yo sibling (a little more fruit here, a little more peat there). No reason therefore to give it a different score. I’ll be interested to see how these bottles change over time.

Rating: 90 points.

8 thoughts on “Highland Park 25, (45.7%, 2012)

  1. Picked up a bottle of this while on a business trip to New Brunswick in April (at the heavily discounted price of $197 CAD – as opposed to the $375 CAD it is currently listed at in Ontario) and then opened it on Christmas Day. I’ve never had the opportunity to try the earlier release at the higher ABV, but I was quite impressed by this one…we did an Orkney Vertical in November 2012 with HP 12, HP 15, Scapa 16, HP 18, and HP 21, and I’d say this is just slightly better than the HP 18 and HP 21…very good nonetheless, and very nice after a serving of sticky toffee pudding.

    As for the nice wooden box (or ‘coffin’ as my wife put it), we plan to use it to hold all of our assorted dice once I’ve finished the bottle in two or so years…

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  2. I think I’d agree that this is not very far ahead of the 18 yo or 21 yo (47.5%). But I don’t think that’s a knock on this 25 yo (as some people might perceive it) as much as it is testament to how good the 21 yo and especially the 18 yo (at 43%) are. The 18 yo, in particular, gets short shrift from a lot of whisky geeks because it’s not sexy to like OB releases at 43%. Anyway, I’ll be reviewing the 21 yo next month and should have my next bottle of the 18 open in a few months.

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    • I concurr that the relative greatness of the 25yr vis-a-vis the 21yr and the 18yr is not a knock against the quality of the 25yr, but rather a testament to how good the 21yr (47.5%) is…and the 18yr puts itself in the same ballpark by being both very good and actually affordable…current prices at the LCBO are $150 for the 18yr, $300 for the 21yr (and Loki), and $375 for the 25yr…

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      • We have better luck with the 18 yo in the US–it can be found between $90 and $110 without too much trouble (less trouble closer to $110). We don’t get the 21 at all, and the 25 is hard to find below $300. I got this one (and the one I reviewed earlier) at severe discounts, but those were one-off sales. The Loki is $250.

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  3. I was able to purchase the 48.1% version for $297 where I live, then get the 45.7% version a fee days later for $378. I do taste a big difference between the two. The higher alcohol seems to be more dryer with more spicyness, and the lower alcohol is alittle sweeter. But both are amazing! Liquor store in the next town over sells them both for $435 each so I think I got a good bargain. But I’ll be damned if I can get them to give me legs on the glass! Litterally no legs! Whiskey just falls down and does not stick to the sides.

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  4. Hi David, thanks for the comment. I think that generally maps onto my notes on the two. I thought this one was fruitier and I noted drier, more tannic notes in the other. I just couldn’t find enough reason to give them different scores because of different emphases in the profile.

    And, man, I’m glad I bought my bottles when I did.

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