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Highland Park 12 vs Johnnie Walker Black Label: Discover the Better!

Discover the differences between Highland Park 12 vs Johnnie Walker Black Label in this head to head comparison and decide which whisky is better for You!

Highland Park 12

  • Nose: Floral, smoke, orange, honey
  • Palate: Cereal, orange, green tea, smoke
  • Finish: Long, oak, pepper
  • Alcohol content: 86 proof (43% ABV)
  • How to drink: Add water
  • Similar to: Glenfiddich 12, Laphroaig 10


Nose has a strong floral hit, with hints of citrus and honey. There is a smoky note on the nose that does not show as high on the palate.

On the palate, it feels somewhat thin lacking in body. Mouthfeel is smooth and sweet, with a bit of iodine, honey and subtle smoke.

The finish is peppery, moderately sweet, and short, with just a tad of oak.

The Highland Park 12 gets entirely better with a few drops of water as it becomes sweeter and some meaty notes appear.

Is it good?

Highland Park 12 is neither as peaty as the whiskies from Islay nor as sweet and smooth as the whiskies from Speyside; sits in the middle of the road.

It is sweet, there’s smoke in limited amounts making a good option for those who want to get baptized into peaty Scotch before trying the smoke-monsters such as Ardbeg or Laphroaig.

Overall, Highland Park 12 is a solid basic single malt a bit too thin for my taste and somewhat boring. It does get better if you add a few drops of water, though.

Highland Park 12 facts:

  • Highland Park ages its whiskies in a combination of European and American casks that previously stored Spanish Oloroso Sherry Wine. This makes Highland Park whiskies sweeter and darker than a traditional Scotch.
  • This whisky is free of additives, sweeteners, artificial colorants or any chemical compound. The 12 Year is made exclusively using malted barley and water; that’s it!
  • This brand has been in business since 1798 and is the northernmost single malt Scotch whisky distillery in Scotland, located in Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands.
  • Today, the company belongs to the Edrington Group who also owns other well-known whisky brands such as Macallan, Glenrothes and the modest Famous Grouse.

Johnnie Walker Black Label

  • Nose: Vanilla, orange zest, nectarine
  • Palate: Smoke, roasted malt, caramel, vanilla
  • Finish: Long, fruity, peppery, smoke
  • Alcohol content: 80 proof (40% ABV)
  • How to drink: Add water
  • Similar to: White Walker, Founder’s Reserve


On the nose, the Black Label delivers vanilla, followed by citrus zest, nectarine and a whiff of alcohol.

On the palate, body feels thin with not much body. The Black Label has mildly sweet taste, with a flavor rich in peat. There are also hints of toffee and vanilla coming behind.

The finish has some peat, black pepper, salt and a bit of warmth but nothing terrible or off-putting.

Is it good?

Overall, the Black Label is a reliable whisky, striking a good balance of smoke and sweetness, with peat smoke and charred oak barrel smoke.

Quite smooth but with a warm finish that does not overwhelm. Nevertheless, on a lot of ice as it is commonly served it totally hits the spot.

The Black Label serves as an introductory bottle to peated Scotch, those with a hint coming from the peats used to dry the malted barley.

The peaty note in the Black Label (Substitutes) is not overpowering and is a good starting point before trying more complex whiskies.

Black Label facts:

  • The Black Label is a blend of 40 whiskies made from grain and malts aged for at least 12 years from all over Scotland.
  • The blend includes peaty whiskies from Islay, sweet and salty whiskies from Speyside along some malts coming from the Scottish Highlands.
  • Now it belongs to Diageo, the British drinks giant who also owns Don Julio Tequila, Casamigos among several other brands.

Highland Park 12 vs Johnnie Walker Black Label: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Highland Park 12$54
Johnnie Walker Black Label$30

Highland Park 12 vs Black Label: Which is better?

The Black Label is better for new drinkers

  • If you are new to peaty whisky start with the Black Label which serves as the best introductory bottle to this type of whisky.
  • The Black Label also makes a better mixer and is good when served in a highball.
  • The Highland Park 12 is a better whisky, this is fine single malt ranked among the best of its kind, but better suited for experienced whisky aficionados.

Differences between the Highland Park and the Black Label

There is one major difference between these whiskies

  • Highland Park 12 is a single malt Scotch. Under the UK’s Scotch Whisky Regulations a single malt Scotch must be made exclusively from malted barley, distilled using pot stills at a single distillery and aged for no less than 3 years (Highland Park was aged for 12 years) in oak barrels.
  • Black Label is a blend of various whiskies crafted in several distilleries across Scotland with a minimum age statement of 12 years.

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