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Highland Park 12 year OB through the ages 1979 - 2019 x 8

 
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lincoln imp
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Location: Lincolnshire England

PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2021 11:50 pm    Post subject: Highland Park 12 year OB through the ages 1979 - 2019 x 8 Reply with quote

This is another h2h that i have been planning for some time, just had to wait until i could get a noughties bottle.

The Highland Park 12 year OB dumpy bottles that many of us know and love were first on sale in 1979 as a 70 proof before changing over to 40% in 1980. There have been other 12 year official bottlings before then but they were the tall brown glass bottles such as the Ferraretto import but as far as i am aware they were not a regular bottling.


1979 70 proof 12 year 40% was the first year the 12 year dumpy was bottled as a regular offering in the dumpy bottle screen print style, prior to that there was tall bottlings that were official bottlings at 8 & 12 year such as Ferraretto imports but they were not regular offerings prior to 1979

Here are the contenders for best OB HP spread over a 40 year period, first to last, 1970-2019.

1979 70 proof dumpy bottle screen print label
1980/81 43% dumpy screen print
1985 +/- 40% dumpy bottle screen print label
1991 40% dumpy bottle , narrow black band
1990’s 40% dumpy bottle narrow black band
2005 40% dumpy bottle , sunset label
2009 40% square bottle
2019 40% Viking Honour

Bonus 18 year Viking Pride 11/7/2017


Colour
1979 & 1981 are almost the same but the mid 80’s screen print bottle is definitely darker and is the darkest of the flight, the 2005 is also darker than the latest offerings The lightest is between the 1979, 1981 and the 2019.

1-1979
This is the first in a 12 year h2h of 8 HP OB.
The nose is what would describe as light and inoffensive with very gentle peat smoke, light fragrant Sherry and marshmallow.
At first I thought it was a little thing but I was wrong the flavours are tightly combined, peat, sherry, faint hint of salt, caramel and faint orange and chocolate.
This is sweeter than I thought it was going to be with a nice finish, very elegant must say.
Warning:- this 70 proof is far too easy going you could easily drink this in a matter of days, it is so easy going, it glides down your throat.
The other 7 in this flight have a hard actually to follow because this is brilliant, no wonder they cost so much at auctions.
As you go on the smoke increases, the balance is awesome, I want a case of these bottles
91/92/93 - 92 average

2 - EARLY 80’S
this 43% version is not quite as sweet or as well put together as the 1979 70 proof dumpy bottle screen print label wb 174324.
This is slightly rougher but definitely has more bite at 43% and more spice, finish is also a little better but not longer.
89/90/92 - 90 average

3- EARLY TO MID 1980’S
This is the darkest of the 8 x 12 year OB.
It has more Sherry on the nose and smells as if there is some dark brown vinegar in the mix, which I like.
Hints of pepper and something almost dirty which adds to the appeal.
After a few minutes the smoke appears.
This is old school, richer hints of tobacco , pepper, sweet candy tobacco (Spanish Gold).
The pepper and spice note increases and gives this some complexity, perfect balance, very juicy indeed.
The finish is the best part, I cannot fault it.
92/91/93 - 92 average


4- 1991 (miniature) with black band
This miniature is from 1991, the problem with mini pages on here is that this shape mini was around for roughly 10 years so comparing scores is impossible.
The nose is slightly vinegary and also closed at first, brine and pepper.
This surprises me, it is really spicy full of pepper and Ginger mixing with peat, salt and sherry.
Compared to the first three HP 12 this is a little behind because the spice dominates the Sherry but it is still high quality with a long finish that remains peppery
87/87/88 - 87 average

5- 1990’s
The nose is very similar to the mini WBid 57744 from 1991.
This has even more pepper at first but then a nice sweetness emerges then the pepper swamps it , the Sherry sweetness is pushed away.
nothing wrong with this, but a little too much power for me which keeps the Sherry sweetness at bay.
87/86/87 - 87 average

6- 2005
Opened this full bottle for this tasting.
no 6 of 8 HP 12 OB
This definitely has the same DNA as the last 2 but the spirit is darker.
Once again there is slot of pepper, hints of ginger, a nice orange note there seems to be more depth on show here.
The spices on the nose translate to the palate but the fruit is coming out, mango and sweet plums with a dash of peat and then orange chocolate with a hint of brine.
After the 2 c 1990's offerings Highland Park was back on it's A game, i am going to enjoy drinking this bottle.
The finish is long and mighty, it shouts at you and lingers, yes this is a good HP
90/90/91- 90 average

7- 2009
This score is for a 2009 bottle.
No7 of a 12 year H2H.
The nose, is not the sweetest and actually smells quite Woody at first and then something new a Parma Violet note creeps in, different to the previous 6 12 year OB before this one.
Yes this is ok I like it.
Once again there is a massive spice note which keeps any sweetness at bay, is there some bourbon casks in the mix here?
Unfortunately the spice increases and it loses focus, being too heat with spice affects the balance.
Finish is quite long but alas not very interesting to me.
86/87/84 - 86 average

8 -2019 viking honour
This is the last one 8 12 year HP 12 OB
The last time I tried the Viking honour I scored it around 55 points, it was awful but let's give it a 2nd chance.
The nose is very different to the 2009 WB id 39852, this has a manufactured sweetness, like some supermarket blends have?
There is some peat on the nose and it smells perfumed to me and very buttery, like hot buttered toast which is no bad thing to be honest?
This is the problem with HP 12 now, it lacks a soul, it has a manufactured sweetness mixed with warm brioche and the shells of sugared almonds.
I think my last score was a bit harsh, the sweetness on the finish saved this but it is boring and uninteresting to me while being perfectly drinkable.
definitely the worst of the 8 tried tonight.
80/75/75 - 77 average

So this is between the 1979 70 proof, the mid 1980’s screen print label and the 2005 bottle i have just opened.

Re tried in this order 1979. Mid 80’s. 2005


1979
has a great nose full of depth, a spicy palate that fights with the sweetness but it is the finish that grabs you, so elegant and leaves you wanting more
1980’s
The nose is more full on than the 1979 70 proof, plenty of depth, a fat chewy palate with just a hint of woody bitterness, bags of spice but the depth and flavours here are intense, the polar opposite to the 79 but just as good in it’s own way.
2005
The nose is not as good as the other two, it is more clinical, in your face but the palate is really nice, plenty of power for 40%, masses of spice.

The 79 & mid 80’s are as good as each other, the 2005 is a deserved 3rd in this tasting.

So there you have it 1979 to the late 1980’s HP 12 was a class act, then for some reason it went off the boil in the 1990’s only to have a renaissance in the early to mid 2000’s before it started to wain in the late noughties ( but still half decent) before it fell apart and offered the crap it does today Viking honour my *, there is no honour for Highland Park with the currant 12 year from 2017.

Ok a Brucie Bonus now I will try the latest 18 year viking honour from 2017, the first of the new batches

Checked with the distillery This bottle code is a 2017 bottle.
On the nose we have Ginger and chocolate with some barley sugar and a note that reminds me of old lucozade, with hints of sweet peat.
On the palate there is a lot going on, plenty of spice, hints of orange, Christmas cake, Christmas spice,a little peat.
The finish is quite long, remaining spicy.
I remember getting a few bottles of the new 18 on 2007/8 and thought it was lovely but this is not even close to that, decent enough but 3 of the 12 year OB in the h2h I have just completed are better than this.
That being said it is still decent but not worth the asking price, that is for sure.
88/88/86 - 87[
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arqueturus
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great reviews there and side by side Lincoln Imp! I've only recently been into Whisky ( 6 years or so now) but my partner had an old bottling of HP12 from 2005 or so that was far better than any of the current crop I've tried, including the HP18 Travel Retail edition (which was good, once the bottle had been open a couple of months).

I'd be very interested to see where the recent Cask Strength slots in with these. It sounded like massive bandwagoning to me but everything I've read about it has been positive. Have you tried it?
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lincoln imp
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

arqueturus wrote:
Great reviews there and side by side Lincoln Imp! I've only recently been into Whisky ( 6 years or so now) but my partner had an old bottling of HP12 from 2005 or so that was far better than any of the current crop I've tried, including the HP18 Travel Retail edition (which was good, once the bottle had been open a couple of months).

I'd be very interested to see where the recent Cask Strength slots in with these. It sounded like massive bandwagoning to me but everything I've read about it has been positive. Have you tried it?


Thanks appreciated, no not tried it but at 63.3% it sounds like the massive ABV is designed to overcome casks of only mediocre quality perhaps?
I find many cask strength whiskies only average once a little water is added to them, the true test of a whisky is 40-46% because bum casks cannot be hidden by low abv.
The example i always use are the old brown label connoisseurs choice bottles, they were not all great but some of them at 40% are outstanding, that being said ,what would they have been like at 50%, the mind boggles?. Wink
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arqueturus
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lincoln imp wrote:
arqueturus wrote:
Great reviews there and side by side Lincoln Imp! I've only recently been into Whisky ( 6 years or so now) but my partner had an old bottling of HP12 from 2005 or so that was far better than any of the current crop I've tried, including the HP18 Travel Retail edition (which was good, once the bottle had been open a couple of months).

I'd be very interested to see where the recent Cask Strength slots in with these. It sounded like massive bandwagoning to me but everything I've read about it has been positive. Have you tried it?


Thanks appreciated, no not tried it but at 63.3% it sounds like the massive ABV is designed to overcome casks of only mediocre quality perhaps?
I find many cask strength whiskies only average once a little water is added to them, the true test of a whisky is 40-46% because bum casks cannot be hidden by low abv.
The example i always use are the old brown label connoisseurs choice bottles, they were not all great but some of them at 40% are outstanding, that being said ,what would they have been like at 50%, the mind boggles?. Wink


Interesting points.

I'm a member of a whisky club for the past 4 or 5 years where I've seen cask strength and Single Cask become the epitome of quality.

I've always wondered if that does a disservice to the blenders that set the 'taste' of an expression.

But then I wonder what the reasons for dilution to certain ABV are?

The best possible flavour?

or

The best possible margin?

Looking at your tasting notes it may be that in times gone by they managed to wring more flavour out of the process than now, even at a low ABV.

Tricky waters to navigate in my opinion.
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lincoln imp
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Joined: 23 Dec 2007
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Location: Lincolnshire England

PostPosted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

arqueturus wrote:
lincoln imp wrote:
arqueturus wrote:
Great reviews there and side by side Lincoln Imp! I've only recently been into Whisky ( 6 years or so now) but my partner had an old bottling of HP12 from 2005 or so that was far better than any of the current crop I've tried, including the HP18 Travel Retail edition (which was good, once the bottle had been open a couple of months).

I'd be very interested to see where the recent Cask Strength slots in with these. It sounded like massive bandwagoning to me but everything I've read about it has been positive. Have you tried it?


Thanks appreciated, no not tried it but at 63.3% it sounds like the massive ABV is designed to overcome casks of only mediocre quality perhaps?
I find many cask strength whiskies only average once a little water is added to them, the true test of a whisky is 40-46% because bum casks cannot be hidden by low abv.
The example i always use are the old brown label connoisseurs choice bottles, they were not all great but some of them at 40% are outstanding, that being said ,what would they have been like at 50%, the mind boggles?. Wink


Interesting points.

I'm a member of a whisky club for the past 4 or 5 years where I've seen cask strength and Single Cask become the epitome of quality.

I've always wondered if that does a disservice to the blenders that set the 'taste' of an expression.

But then I wonder what the reasons for dilution to certain ABV are?

The best possible flavour?

or

The best possible margin?

Looking at your tasting notes it may be that in times gone by they managed to wring more flavour out of the process than now, even at a low ABV.

Tricky waters to navigate in my opinion.


High cask strength whisky is absolutely no guarantee of quality, all very high cask strength whisky does is number your senses, your tongue, your palate etc.
I agree that years ago they could dilute to 40% and still be reasonably sure that quality was still pretty good because in Highland Park's case they had better quality Sherry casks.

I just take the view that a whisky that shines at 40-43% shows the pedigree is high and these days high cask strength is designed in some cases to off set younger whisky in mediocre casks.

I suppose it depends which way you flip the coin?
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