highland park 12 years viking honour featured2

Highland Park 12 Years ‘Viking Honour’ (2023)

As someone who proclaims his favourite style of single malt is subtly peated, I should be all over Highland Park. And yet, something has been holding me back. But I feel a slow change happening. Today, I’m checking out the Highland Park 12 Years ‘Viking Honour’.

My preference for mildly smoked whisky likely started with Benromach, but has since spread to many others. It’s an impossible question I get relatively frequently, but when asked what my favourite whisky is I often default to Benromach, Springbank, Bowmore, or even Ardmore. I’m all about that friendly peat, yet for some reason it never felt natural to include Highland Park.

It probably has something to do with the Highland Park Valhalla Collection, which was released during some of my formative whisky years. The whiskies included the Thor, Loki, Freya and Odin, and were not viewed too kindly by myself. Overpriced and squarely aimed at the collectors market, the series coloured my view of what Highland Park was.

Highlandpark (Flickr ade46)

A few years later Edrington needed funds for the new Macallan Distillery. Maybe it was a coincidence, but they started selling tens of thousands of litres of undisclosed Highland Park to brokers and bottlers. The whisky market was flooded with Secret Orkney releases. While they were all good, I was also kind of getting fed up with them. No rhyme or reason, I’m just sharing how I felt at the time.

And now here we are. For the most part, whisky prices have become ridiculous. Even those of the undisclosed Highland Park releases. I’m trying to find value. And guess what? One of the places that sometimes offer value are either official bottlings from distilleries, and undisclosed releases from a few years ago. Because many, including Secret Orkney whiskies, are still sitting on shelves. Who’d have thought that anonymous malts were more difficult to sell?

Very recently I bought my first-ever Secret Orkney. From the WhiskyNerds, one of my favourite bottlers. Just last year I thought it a tad expensive. Now it was offered at a discount, while whisky prices have risen even further, and all of a sudden it seemed mightily attractive.

Had whisky been more affordable, I probably still would’ve mostly disregarded Highland Park. But I’m painted into a corner. I can’t ignore potential value whiskies. Which means I’m now also much more open-minded about Highland Park. So, when a sample of the Highland Park 12 Years ‘Viking Honour’ landed on my desk, I was actually excited to try it again.

It’s not the first time I tried the Highland Park 12 Years, or even the first time I’ve reviewed it, but it has been a while.

highland park 12 years viking honour 2

Highland Park 12 Years ‘Viking Honour’ (40%, OB, 2023)

Nose: Rather gentle, but quite sweet and fruity with touches of apricot, granulated sugar, orange peels, marmalade and a touch of tobacco. Just a tinge of fennel in the background. The smoke is almost non-existent.
Taste: More recognisable as Highland Park now. Subtle, yet refreshing smoke. Green-ish in a way. A hint of white pepper, cereals, oak spices and oranges, as well as a more herbacious side. Mouthfeel is on the thinner side.
Finish: Medium length with spicy oak, some ginger and a touch of honey. Soft fruits too.

Some rather active oak was used, but the result is pretty satisfying. Balanced, that's for sure. Enough depth. And not a dime-a-dozen either. You could do much worse than the Highland Park 12 Years Viking Honour.

Power your creative ideas with pixel-perfect design and cutting-edge technology. Create your beautiful website with Zeen now.