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Highland Park 12 vs Macallan 12: Discover the Better!

Discover the differences between Highland Park 12 vs Macallan 12 Double Cask in this in-depth comparison and decide which whisky is better for You!

Highland Park 12

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: Highland Park 18, Bowmore 12

Taste:

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

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 whisky before trying the peaty-monsters.

Overall, Highland Park 12 is a solid basic single malt a bit thin for my taste and somewhat boring. It does get better if you add a dash 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 whisky is free of caramel-coloring, made exclusively using malted barley and water; that’s it!
  • This brand has been in business since 1798 and is the northernmost distillery in Scotland, located in Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands.
  • Highland Park is owned by the Edrington Group who also holds Macallan.

Macallan 12 Double Cask

macallan-12-double-cask
  • Nose: Sherry, dried fruit, mixed nuts
  • Palate: Baking spice, oak, chocolate
  • Finish: Long, oak, sherry
  • Alcohol content: 86 proof (43% ABV)
  • How to drink: Add water
  • Similar to: Glenfiddich 12, Glenlivet 12

Taste:

The nose is sweet, rich in sherry, dried fruit and oak.

On the palate, the Double Cask kicks-off with a blast of oak, followed by bitter chocolate, sherry and a bit of citrus. There is just a bit of warmth yet from the pleasant type as it’s not burny.

The finish is long, with more oak to it, rich in dried fruit and a tad of spice.

Is it good?

The Double Cask is rich in flavors, not too sweet, with a faint note of chocolate, a trace of spice, with a bit of warmth at the end and a noticeable oaky note making it a pleasing dram as it goes down nicely.

Overall, the Macallan 12 Double Cask serves as an introductory release to sherry cask matured Scotch before going for the sherry-bombs (Glenallachie, GlenDronach), although the deep oaky note can be harsh for some consumers.

Adding a splash of water will tune-down the oak and the warmth making it easier to drink. I would not use the Double Cask as a mixer due to its price.

Macallan Double Cask facts:

  • Macallan was aged for 12 years using a combination of American and European oak casks seasoned with sherry wine from Spain.
  • Earned Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2017.
  • The Macallan Distillery was founded in 1824 and is located in Craigellachie, Moray.
  • Macallan does not use caramel-coloring to make the whisky look more appealing, this practice is allowed under the set of rules that govern Scotch whisky but Macallan refrains from such questionable practice.
  • Macallan is a Speyside Whisky, the most densely populated Whisky region in the world. Speyside whiskies are known for being low in peat and full of fruit and are commonly matured in Sherry casks.

Highland Park 12 vs Macallan 12: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskyPrice
Highland Park 12$54
Macallan 12 Double Cask$66

Macallan 12 vs Highland Park 12: Which is better?

Macallan 12 is a safer bet than the Highland Park 12

  • If you are in the mood of moderately peaty whisky and a bit of warmth the Highland Park 12 is better choice for you.
  • The Macallan 12 is better choice for those who want a smooth and moderately sweet dram, rich in tasting notes although a bit oaky. This is a sherried whisky but not nearly as high in sherry as the Scotch sherry-bombs like Glenallachie or GlenDronach.

What do the Highland Park 12 and Macallan 12 have in common?

  • These whiskies are labeled as single malt. 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 in oak casks of a capacity not exceeding 700 litres (180 gallons).
  • Both the Macallan and the Highland Park were aged for 12 years using a combination of American and European ex-sherry casks. The term “ex-sherry” means that these casks previously stores Spanish Sherry wine.
  • Both companies belong to the Edrington Group who also owns the fine Glenrothes Whisky and the modest Famous Grouse, which has been the best-selling whisky in Scotland since 1980.
  • Despite sharing ownership these brands are managed independently.

Differences

  • Highland Park whiskies are characterized for having rich smoky flavors due to the notes provided by the peat from Hobbister Moor used to dry the malted barley. This peat contains a higher proportion of heather than other Scottish peats making Highland Park whisky have a unique flavor profile.

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