Highland Park 10

Highland Park 10
I don’t really follow distillery press releases and marketing so please forgive me if I’m wrong about the following: my understanding is that Highland Park 10 is only available in a couple of countries in Europe (the Netherlands among them) and only available in 350 ml bottles. Why either of these things should be so, I don’t know. And I suppose it is possible that neither is still true—this is not a new whisky. At any rate, I guess we should just be happy that Highland Park are putting out an age stated whisky even younger than their mainstay 12 yo. (This seems to be a bit of a happy trend these days, by the way, what with Lagavulin’s new 8 yo-–though that may not continue past this year—and Bowmore just releasing a new 9 yo.) Maybe there’s a faction at the distillery who’re embarrassed about Highland Park’s endless parade of whiskies with silly names and stories and this is a sop to them. Anyway, let’s see what it’s like. 

Highland Park 10 (40%; from a purchased sample)

Nose: Very Highland Park with honey, oranges and mild peat. On the second sniff the peat seems to have expanded (and it’s very faintly rubbery now). Gets brinier as it sits as well and there’s a touch of butterscotch too now. With more time the citrus is more lemon than orange and there’s some zest to go with the fruit. One drop of water mutes the fruit and so I’m not going to add any more.

Palate: Even peatier entry on the palate with the sweeter notes right behind. The peat’s not phenolic, more peppery and mineral (a la old Ardmore). Seems to get smokier and drier as it sits (leafier now). Water seems to emphasize the smoke.

Finish: Medium. The pepper outlast the fruit and is joined by some salt.

Comments: This was a nice surprise. A very good entry-level single malt in general and solidly Highland Park in its makeup. The 12 yo is better with more complexity and more oomph in general—it also has a little higher abv. I don’t know why this doesn’t have a wide release: priced below the 12 yo this could very easily become my every day sipper.

Rating: 84 points.

6 thoughts on “Highland Park 10

  1. We have the full 750ml bottles in at least a few provinces here in Canada. It’s a solid entry in the basic category here. In my province though, it’s the difference between spending $65 Canadian for a HP10 40% vs HP12 43% at $80. 2 extra years and a higher abv for $15 extra and you can bet which way I have sided.

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  2. Aha. Poking around now I see that this was originally released in 350 ml bottles in Holland. These then spread to Denmark, Germany and the UK, and then a 750 ml bottle was released in Canada. At $30 (US) this would be an excellent entry-level drinker, setting new malt drinkers up nicely for the rest of Highland Park’s age-stated range.

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  3. $30 in the US seems very optimistic, particularly with Edrington apparently trying to take their portfolio to the “super luxury” end of the market. Indeed with HP 12 at around $50 or more a price of $40 for an HP10 would be a bit surprising and about as low as I would expect even though I personally would not be interested even at that price.

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    • Yes, it’s optimistic, but that’s what people come to me for: optimism! That said, Highland Park 12 can be easily found for $40 in Minnesota and so $30-32 for the 10 yo wouldn’t be out of the question. But if it were to be expanded into the US my guess is that the price would be where the 12 yo is now and the 12 yo would rise to where the 15 yo is/used to be (not sure of what its status is right now). If there isn’t an appreciable gap in price most people would go for the one that’s two years older (as per Collegiate). So, in short, we agree.

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  4. I have long been a fan of Highland Park and their 12 yo was my staple for many years. As its price has edged up I no longer made it my go-to dram and found substitutes, saving the HP for special occasions. A couple of years ago the price of HP12 was raised again and this 10 yo version was introduced, slotted in underneath it at about the previous price of the 12. I did not find it at all comparable, and unlike your impressions, really did not like it much on its own merits. It was a real disappointment and I have not bought any more of it. I wonder how well it sells.

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  5. In Toronto, I keep a bottle of this in my collection. I prefer it to the higher priced 12 year old for my Highland Park fix, and spend more on other distilleries I haven’t tried yet.

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