Highland Park 15 y.o. Review

Highland Park 15 y.o.

43% abv

Score:  86.5/100


This was a pleasant surprise.  I remember being somewhat less than enthused with Highland Park’s 15 year old expression.  Not that I didn’t like it, but simply that it seemed a little lackluster in an otherwise brilliant portfolio.  To sate my curiosity, and alleviate a gnawing concern that I wasn’t giving this one its due, I nabbed a bottle a few months back and finally got around to popping the cork.

I’ll be honest here and say that I still find this the least spectacular of the range, but it sparkles in ways I don’t remember from initial impressions.  It is a mellowed version of the 12 year old, but I still find I prefer the youthful bite and malty edge of that expression to this.  Maybe that’s just me.

All personal preference aside, this is simply another solid outing from one of the best operational distilleries out there.

As mentioned, the maltiness of the 12 year old has all but disappeared by this age.  Three more years in oak have dulled that throb down to a slow heartbeat.  So what remains of the Highland Park character when you tumble the edges off?  Peat and smoke?  Check.  Honey?  Check.  Meadow flower/heather?  Check.  These three always seem to form the backbone of any HP I’ve tasted (excepting that odd…truly odd…Hudson’s Bay, bottled by the fine folk at ‘Laddich), and while they by no means define Highland Park they do sort of exemplify the distillery’s character.

I also picked up a touch of dill, some toffee (or light caramel) and a hint of chocolate.  Finally, and quite interestingly, hay and horse blanket.  Nifty.

All told…not a bad ride.  Personally though…I’d get off one stop sooner (12 year) or take this train to any of the more distant stops (18, 25, 30, 40 year).


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

13 thoughts on “Highland Park 15 y.o. Review

  1. Robert

    Just bought a bottle of this as the 18 has gone up to $105. Ridiculous price when the 12 is $35 and the 15 is $49. Has a definitely different taste to it. I’ve compared it to the 12 (I’m out of 18!) and really like the 15 nose better. More fruit and I don’t get that occasional hint of baby puke like I do with the 12. Both have a very nice palate, but the 12 has more pepper and peat while the 15 is more like alcoholic fruit cup to me, which I personally find pleasant. I had a hard time recognizing what fruits and finally realized canned mixed fruit. Would be a very good hot weather dram, but I can see the 12 taking over when the temps drop. Rating of 86.5 looks good to me.

    1. Jeff

      I liked it more than 86.5 (91), but it is a departure from the HP flavour profile, at least as much as the 15 Solera is from the Glenfiddich profile. Using oloroso in American Oak, I think it might be the most successful of the “experimental” 15s (including the Solera and the Glenlivet French Oak). Good stuff, but maybe not something to use to introduce someone to what HP has to offer.

      1. Robert

        I thought 86.5 was fair, but I personally would put it at 88, as I like the flavor profile and nose. In any event I would say it is 2-3 points better than HP12, but doesn’t really seem like an HP. On a blind test I would never guess HP. Seems more Speyside.

        1. Jeff

          I’d certainly agree with the Speyside assessment, Robert, in that there is a lot of vanilla and tight tannins that carry over from the American Oak, these usually being found most predominantly in the bourbon finishes of light Speyside whiskies. Have you tried Redbreast 12? I’m giving it a go off the cork tonight. I think it’s going to need a long time to open up.

          1. Robert

            Yes, I have a bottle I bought earlier this year at my bro-in-law’s store. Good Irish. You should enjoy it!

    1. Robert

      Have a dram or two of Ardbeg 10 , and then HP 12. The puke becomes more pronounced and more adult. I now make sure HP12 is before any Islay drams, as I assume it’s the peat.

  2. Robert

    Still like this better than the 12. Have been tasting a new bottle of Longmorn 16, which I do like. It seemed somewhat similar to Dalwhinnie 15, so I have compared the two today, and finished with a dram of HP15. Very nice sequence of whiskies I would recommend to anyone. The HP12 would not fit as well. Bought two new boxes of cigars at a smoker last night and plan to be mellowed out all weekend! Have a happy dramming weekend!

    1. Skeptic

      Mellowed? Cigars?


      I hope you don’t plan on mixing them with expensive scotch. You’ll lose all the subtleties. Plus your tastebuds will be damaged. Plus you increase your risk of mouth and tongue cancer, not to mention lung.

      Oh well, that will leave more scotch for the rest of us…

      1. Robert

        As I read this, I am enjoying a buttery smooth Rocky Patel cigar and watching far off lightning in the night sky. So I am quite content. And I now understand why your tag is “Skeptic”.

        Need you guys to do reviews of Dalwhinnie and Longmorn. As my taste buds are damaged by cigars, I need someone to explain why I enjoy such subtle whiskies so much.

        1. skeptic

          make fun all you want. For now, I may be able to taste less with intact buds than you can with your smoke screen, but in years to come my whisky will taste better through my mouth than through a feeding tube after the disfiguring oral surgery…

          1. ATW Post author

            Now, now, gents.

            A good cigar with a good whisky…heaven.

            Now here’s the thing (as the Maltmonster and I have oft discussed)…a cigar does not enhance the whisky. Nor does the whisky enhance the cigar. The pairing does, on the other hand, enhance the EXPERIENCE.

            Skeptic is quite right though in his hints that a smoke dulls the senses.

            Hence…only a now and again thing for this kid.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s