Highland Park Vertical Tasting

Last year I had the pleasure of attending An Evening with Highland Park run by The Birmingham Whisky Club. This year however I wanted to take the vertical tasting a step further. Thanks to some birthday money and a sample set I was able to make this a reality. So here’s my vertical tasting of Highland Park, from New Make to 30 years old.

New Make:

Nose: Young spirit although not as much as I remembered from the last time I tried this. Beyond the young spirit is barley, citrus and milk chocolate.

Palate: Chocolate, citrus, fruit and smoke.

Finish: Smoke and malt and that chocolate coming through again.

Highland Park 12 Year:


Nose: Sweet, sherry, fresh, heather, honey and brown sugar.

Palate: Sweet and creamy, a touch of sherry and a good dose of smoke without being overpowering, spice and oak.

Finish: Long, smoke and spice with a touch of oak. Slightly drying.

Highland Park 15 Year:


Nose: Sweet, light, sherry and fruit – dried fruit and a touch of citrus (lemon). Underneath the lighter, fruity notes though there is a touch of smoke and some nuttiness lurking.

Palate: Sweet, mild vanilla flavours, fruit – again raisins and lemon citrus. A touch of oak and spice coming through as well as a wisp of smoke under it all.

Finish: Oak, dried fruits, smoke and nuts.

Highland Park 18 Year:


Nose: Sweet and smoky. Fudge, salted caramel and a slight milk chocolate underneath. Then fruit shines through, dried fruits, blackcurrants and cherries.

Palate: Fudge, sweet smoke, creamy. Oak and spice takes hold but spice remains mild. Again rich fruit comes through over time.

Finish: Sweet, slight smoke and slightly nutty. Rich espresso and a hint of dried fruit.

Highland Park 21 Year:


Nose: Sweet, brown sugar with a hint of dark chocolate, a faint note of heather and an orange, citrus edge.

Palate: Creamy, sweet, again that dark chocolate from the nose comes through. A definite spiciness to it which builds but eventually gives way to fruity, almost tropical notes with a hint of apple, possibly mango and an orange peel flavour. All rounded off with a gentle smokiness.

Finish: Medium to long. Tropical fruit coming through on the finish again, creamy, slight spice and a gentle smoke to end.

Highland Park 25 Year:

Nose: Honey, heather, sweet and fruity. Custard, spice and caramel. Christmas cake and slight milk chocolate.

Palate: Sweet, custard, honey, fruity – dried fruits and blackcurrants. Sherry, slight smoke, thick and oily (mouth coating).

Finish: Some oak and smoke, verging on bitter but then you take a breath and the sweet, fruity flavours fill your mouth again. This one really does hang around.

Highland Park 30 Year:

Nose: Sweet, rich and fruity – dried fruits and a hint of strawberry. Butterscotch and caramel, custard and chocolate. Smoke and oak come out over time.

Palate: Sweet, creamy butterscotch. Fruity – strawberry and blackcurrants. Spice, oak, smoke and chocolate.

Finish: Smoke, dark chocolate (bitter) and oak. Then it turns sweet with rich toffee that just doesn’t want to leave.


What an experience! First of all it’s great to taste all the way up from New Make to 30 years old. You can see from the colour of the whiskies how it has changed over time. Certain notes follow all the way up from the new make such as the chocolate and smoke. While the sherry and fruit notes come on board from the 12 year and develop all the way up.

After doing a vertical tasting I feel I should rate the whiskies in my personal order of preference. I’ve actually written two lists for you – one is my personal preference based on the whisky alone. The second takes cost into account and let me tell you it makes a big difference!

Personal Preference:

  1. 30 year old.
  2. 25 year old.
  3. 21 year old.
  4. 18 year old.
  5. 12 year old.
  6. 15 year old.
  7. New Make.

Personal Preference + Price:

  1. 18 year old.
  2. 12 year old.
  3. 21 year old.
  4. 15 year old.
  5. New Make.
  6. 25 year old.
  7. 30 year old.


So there you have it – if you have the money to spend on it I’d say go for the 30 year old. It is absolutely stunning and a perfect sample of an aged whisky done right. At around £600 a bottle though it is expensive!

If you have a lower budget go for the 18 year if you can – although at round £97 it’s still not cheap. If you can’t stretch that for then for for the 12 year – normally £35 a bottle but often on sale for around £25. It’s a perfect dram at normal price but an absolute bargain when on sale!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. One day I will own a full bottle of the 25 and 30

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I keep saying that but if there prices go up anymore I may have to recant that statement lol


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