It is no big secret that, here at Whisky Unplugged Towers, we are big fans of Highland Park and we rate the 12 year old expression as a ‘companion whisky’ – you know, like a good pet dog: it is faithful, trusty and great company, but, unlike a dog, the HP12 doesn’t require you to pick up after it…urm well let’s just get off that topic and get back to the whisky.
So I have been wanting to get my hands on this stuff for a little while now, and, as usual, the design team at HP have done a great job on the packaging of this expression and the black bottle looks great. I know that this is just packaging but it certainly sets a mood before you even break the seal, and, as we’ve discussed before, you’re already expecting a treat.
The vital statistics from this whisky are that it is available for around £40 and is bottled at 43.1% ABV – so it is not too expensive whilst sat there in the shops but it is still priced highly enough to make you question parting with the cash. It is also not massively strong on the alcohol front, but with this in mind I approached the tasting with and without water to really see what’s going on with this malt.
Hey this is a vibrant little number, bright and glowing a bit like a golden sunset, (sounds poncey I know) probably ‘Mit Karamel’ but it certainly looks great.
Nose (Without water)
It has got a lovely pure smell to it and, it might sound silly to say, but it’s got a whiff of luxury about it too. There’s a smell of grain, a malting room floor, candied orange peel, raisins, drying leaves in the sunshine (bear with me), and a hint of or waft (if you will) of wood smoke.
Taste (Without water)
Okay so this little dram is certainly packing in some flavours! I got pie crust at first (wow, I know you weren’t expecting that as a tasting note!) and lots of citrus hints, with lime in particular. There’s also a glass of the Vicar’s best dry sherry in the mix – not too strong but definitely there in the background. Finally, there’s a good piece of fruit cake mixed with that last ember of hardwood burning in the fire to finish.
So lets add a splash of water…
I am now getting the sherry flavours much more strongly. A wild mix now begins and the flavours are more difficult to define! There’s heather and heather honey and another large slice of fruit cake. Here’s another pretentious-sounding description but… it really does have a taste of autumn to it, which today, as I watch leaves dropping, feels lovely. It has a smooth, silky and satisfying finish.
I like it! No, that sounds a bit insipid and Dragon Legend is a million miles away from being insipid! I really like it! Yes, it’s worth the £40 price tag and it’s a dram to be proud of; one to share with whisky friends or enjoy as the sun goes down in a reflective moment of stillness. Having had a good go at the bottle myself, I’m now looking forward to sharing it with the WU boys to get their take on it, but from where I’m sipping, the HP12 better make some room on the shelf as another faithful companion is coming to stay.