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Highland Park 18 Year Old

On a sour note

0 077

@vanPeltReview by @vanPelt

5th Jul 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Nose1: Is splendid. Savory peach (or stewed mango); earthy/nutty as if it contains the peach pit. While not obviously sweet, the peach is promoted by some banana-nut/ toffee.

Nose2: Tones down to a Waldorf salad (celery/red apple/walnut) with some good ginger spice and lemon peel kicking in later. (After a short time, the toffee comes back, like a non-sweet dark honey.)

Palate: Acidic lemon on entrance, with thyme. Then vanilla coming in with some ginger heat. These are joined with smidgen of oak and ash, as the sour citrus becomes just a touch sweeter into orange.

Finish: Lemon and liquorice, with salt/metallic character.

(Given all the existing positive reviews, I'll make just a small rant here.) Frankly I'm surprised and wonder what the fuss is about: this deserved an 82 on first pour. Of course the malt is drinkable and "good", but I find considerable drawbacks: a nose that dies out (fairly quickly) to light/average, a sour entrance, a palate devoid of complexity or appropriate sweetness to balance, and then a metallic finish. Looking at other reviews, I see similar palate descriptors: sour lemon, woody oak, liquorice... So, it seems others agree on the experience. Could it be that sourness and bitterness are turn-offs for only me?

So what have I missed that others love? Well, others have perceived some different elements, which I find missing: more peat, creaminess, or nuttiness. To be fair, though, I returned to this malt 1 week later and found substantial improvement. That lemon entrance actually WAS more like creamy lemon (rather than acidic). A tad more nuttiness DID come in with the vanilla. So maybe this malt just needs some substantial oxidation. In any case, the "oxidized version" still does not fetch above 84. Maybe a few months of airing out could do the trick....

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