Monday, August 17, 2009
Having gotten the above off my chest, let's move to this wonderful dram that I just happen to be holding and coincidentally beholding in a whisky tumbler. This is fabulous stuff! When Puff Daddy, P Diddy, Sean John, or whatever his latest moniker is, is not out pimping some lame vodka, this is the stuff he is serving at his parties where you get turned away in Cannes for not being cool enough at the door.
This is not the stuff for the pimply/pizza faced college kid with Cheezies encrusted fingers playing Guitar Hero by himself, in his parent's basement, sealing his fate to remain without a girlfriend for yet another weekend, and therefore involuntarily celibate.
This is the stuff for you! If you are new to whisky and scotch, and heck don't even know the difference. You just want something to drink at a high end/art deco bar when you have to make an appearance at a work function where the advertising guys all wear black turtlenecks, black jeans, listen to Bronski Beat's Smalltown Boy on their Ipods, and seem to be more interested in the wait staff than the clients that were the reason they were there in the first place. You gotta down a drink, nod at the pleasantries and think, how the &*%@#!! do I get out of here before the 40yr old middle managers, sloshed on the open bar get slapped with a harrassment suit from that hot temp in photocopying quicker than a lawyer's pulse races at the whiny sound of an ambulance in the distance. Well, the drink is Highland Park 12 yr. Ladies, you're invited too. Highland Park has legions of fans on both sides of the gender fence and for good reason. Let's take a drink and see why . . .
Bring the tumbler's edge to your nose and gently inhale (using your nose, this is not meditation or some downward facing dog position). Yes, it's nice. Now remember, gently take another sniff, you are not Keith Richards and this is not a line of cocaine on some chubby groupies' breast. Restrain yourself! Ok, let's try again. You're picking up tendrils of sweet cereals! Healthy stuff.
You're gazing at this amber liquid in your tumbler, now you're drinking this "neat" (a fancy word to use around the VP that let's him know you know a thing or two about whisky, even if you don't), so remember to take a little sip. This is not Gatorade. Take that sip . . . now! Ok, ok, well . . . Yes! That's right! smokey brown sugar, (no we are not talking politically incorrect Rolling Stone hits), marzipan (look it up on Wikipedia, ok!, I'll do it for you, "a confection of sugar and almond meal - nice Italian treat!), what else are you tasting? Subtle caramel moving to heather and finishing with a spicness, which might be characterized as a gentle dance of weak chili peppers upon your tongue.
Butterscotch/cinnamon flavors evaporate in a puff of smoke across the palate with a little tingle on the tip of your tongue, followed by the feeling that you just enjoyed a fine cigar. The smoky flavor remains more than a minute after you swallowed the last of it. What length? A scotch of John Holmes proportions.
At an alcohol/volume level of 43%, you have to take it easy, otherwise, the advertising guys will be eyeing you guys like a hyena waits for the lone gazelle calf to collapse on the savannah . . . and ladies, the VP seems distracted from his current conversation, as he keeps looking over at you, even though your conversation with him ended sometime after you used the word "neat." I said Neat not neet. Needless to say, Highland Park 12 yr old packs a wallop that will send you sprawling after two modestly poured drinks.
Aromatic, aristocratic, smooth with some spiciness on the finish. Nothing offends in this dram. It is very textured in flavor and while smooth, if you are a novice Scotch enthusiast the addition of water or ice is understandable. If you are new to whisky and want to try the much praised single malts, then this is the dram. The chief failing of single malt scotch whisky is that it tends to have some variance of flavors between different bottlings. Some bottles I have enjoyed seem more sherried than others. Nevertheless, Highland Park 12 year old demonstrates how single malts do have a legitimate claim to a higher ground in your mind and palate. It provides no discordant mixture of flavors, no burn, no alcohol, just a glow on a summer's evening like a firefly. Fleeting but worth the trouble.
You can pay anywhere between roughly $35 to $91 a bottle. Is it worth it? Yes, up to about $60. After $60 you can probably find 18yr old single malts that are better. But for a 12 yr old single malt, there is no match to this scotch whisky. Bottom line: Good value!
If you are new to scotch and want to try a single malt, this is an excellent one to start with. For you newbies, try it with one large or two small ice cubes. For you scotch fans, neat is the way to go.
An excellent 12 year old single malt, reasonably priced, not much peat flavor, but rather a smokey smooth, honey sweet dram with some spice on the finish that is sure to delight men and women alike.
Photo credits: (1) Photo of Highland Park 12 bottle by Flickr member magerleauges who has graciously permitted its reproduction pursuant to a creative commons license. (2) Frame shot from the film When Harry Met Sally.... Copyright held by the film company or artist but used here for the purposes of nostalgia, education and entertainment. (3) Another photo of Highland Park 12 (copyright © 2012 Livefire Photography/Curt McAdams). Used in this post with the permission of Curt McAdams. No reproduction is permitted without the express consent of Curt McAdams. Check out his blog for more great photography and musings on scotch whisky: here. Final Nore: All images used are considered by the author to be significant in illustrating the subject matter, facilitating artistic/critical commentary, as it provides an immediate relevance to the reader more capably than the textual description
© Jason Debly, 2009-2013. All rights reserved.