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