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Like Highland Park 12 year old scotch but cheaper?

BobB Sep 12, 2013 04:26 PM

I've been a fan of Highland Park since I was introduced to it by a clerk at a scotch store (not a liquor store mind you, scotches only) in Edinburgh back in 1982. Back then you couldn't even buy it in the US.

But lately it's gotten popular worldwide, and demand has forced the prices up. So I'm wondering, is there a comparable single malt in flavor profile that's not so trendy, and thus more affordable?

  1. n
    ncyankee101 Sep 13, 2013 12:35 AM

    Unfortunately there has been a lot of upward price pressure on single malts in general. There are several excellent single malts I used to be able to find online for $30-35 that have crept up around ~$10. HP 12 is one, as well as Balvenie doublewood and laphroaig 10 yr. Talisker 10 yr also has gone up a comparable amount, from around $40 to where it is difficult to find for less than $50.

    Oddly enough, prices seem to have remained the same for Ardbeg 10 yr, which I have never (in the 3 1/2 yrs I have been into Scotch) seen for much less than $40 and I can still get here in NC on sale for $45 - but it is not similar at all to HP 12.

    1. d
      DavidT Sep 13, 2013 09:23 AM

      Highland Park and Scapa are the 2 distilleries on the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland. They are a long distance from the vast majority of Scottish distilleries.

      HP is not as heavily peated as the west coast malts from Islay & Skye and it is not as "smooth" as the malts from Speyside. HP's taste is pretty unique. Also note that HP is one of the few distilleries in Scotland that uses hard water.

      You could check to see what blended whisky includes malt from HP. That might be low price option.

      I do not know how the Scapa malt compares in terms of either taste or price.

      6 Replies
      1. re: DavidT
        DavidT Sep 13, 2013 09:32 AM

        Here is a review of HP12 on Jason's Whisky Blog:


        He does mention how popular HP has become and how that has pushed up the price.

        1. re: DavidT
          BobB Sep 14, 2013 04:21 PM

          Yes, I saw that when I was googling for cheaper sources. Unfortunately thanks to the local liquor wholesalers lobby, my state (MA) doesn't allow any alcohol to be shipped directly to consumers from out of state.

        2. re: DavidT
          sku Sep 13, 2013 09:32 AM

          ncyankee is absolutely right that there aren't many deals to be found in the world of single malts these days.

          Famous Grouse is a blended whisky that uses Highland Park and Macallan as its primary malts. It's a good budget blend and will have some of the HP flavor notes but it doesn't have the same intensity.

          1. re: sku
            BobB Sep 14, 2013 04:15 PM

            Thanks sku, I'll have to try some Famous Grouse.

            1. re: BobB
              kagemusha49 Sep 14, 2013 04:28 PM

              You might also want to try Black Grouse from the same people. It has a little smoke but is very nicely balanced. At $20 it is a steal.

          2. re: DavidT
            BobB Sep 14, 2013 04:14 PM

            Thanks David, that makes a lot of sense. I find the island malts like Lagavulin just too smoky - one sip and I feel like I've been upholstered in leather. And the lighter, smoother ones just don't do it for me - if I want that sort of thing I'll pour myself a Jameson.

          3. r
            rainey Sep 13, 2013 03:51 PM

            I am not the Scotch drinker in my family but my husband is a big fan of single malts of the less peaty variety. He likes Highland Park very well and has recently been enjoying Glenrothes Special Reserve. I got him a sampler pack that Glenrothes put together for Fathers' Day and he got himself a full size bottle of the Special Reserve thereafter.

            By chance, Trader Joe's has just begun selling it just under $40. That's probably pretty close to what the younger HPs are selling for. But if TJs is on your shopping route and you could experiment with a couple $20s you might give it a try.

            For reference and in case it's helpful his other favorites are Macallans, Glenmoranges and Glenlivets, tho he drinks the somewhat older ones. And he likes the Dalwynie that I also pick up at TJs for around $30 if I'm not mistaken.

            8 Replies
            1. re: rainey
              ncyankee101 Sep 14, 2013 12:10 AM

              I've never tried Dalwhinnie 15 yr, as I am not a fan of the very mild Scotches, but I have heard it is very good for its style. I can't recall seeing it for under $50 these days so if it is the 15 yr you are getting for $30, that is an amazing deal.

              1. re: ncyankee101
                rainey Sep 14, 2013 09:42 AM

                Had to check: yes, it is the 15yo.

              2. re: rainey
                BobB Sep 14, 2013 04:19 PM

                That's intriguing - I don't visit Trader Joe's very often and didn't even realize that they carry hard liquor. I'll check it out, thanks.

                1. re: BobB
                  BobB Sep 17, 2013 07:42 AM

                  Unfortunately my local TJ's doesn't carry either one of those.

                2. re: rainey
                  BobB Sep 14, 2013 04:24 PM

                  I should mention that I'm currently paying $47 a bottle for the HP 12 - how does that compare nationwide?

                  1. re: BobB
                    DavidT Sep 15, 2013 03:04 AM

                    The BevMo (Beverages & More) website shows their price for a bottle of HP-12 to be $44.99.

                    1. re: DavidT
                      BobB Sep 16, 2013 05:53 AM

                      But that's a West Coast vendor - they can't ship to MA due to state law here (and if they could the shipping charge would be a lot more than the $2 difference).

                    2. re: BobB
                      ncyankee101 Sep 15, 2013 10:40 AM

                      HP 12 is $50 here in NC, which is only $2 more than I paid for my first bottle 3 1/2 years ago. One of the few benefits of living in a control state is more price stability and no markups on limited releases - if I am lucky enough to find the BTAC whiskeys, they are only $70 vs $100 or so in most privatized states.

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