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Since I could not find a bottle of HP18 to sample at any bar, I finally plunked down $96 US for this bottle with high hopes that it would be my new favorite. By itself, it is a very good whisky. However when comparing side by side (as I like to do) with it's younger 12 year old brother, I was disappointed. I even read the review on bad batches and even pulled two bottles of the HP18 out of their gift boxes to check for the color being too dark. When I got home, the color of the HP18 was actually a shade lighter than the HP12, so I obviously did not get a bottle from a bad batch.
As usual, the HP12 is a sythesis of perfectly sweet caramal, light smoke, and brine from the sea. When sipping this HP18, most of those flavors were obliterated by harshness. I actually had to souble check that the HP18 was not a higher alcohol content, but both are the same at 43% ABV. I also had the same situation with the Aberlours, whereby the harshness of the Aberlour 16 outweighed the flavors of the Aberlour 12.
The only explanation that I have for this phenomenom is the use of oak casks and the well known terminology of avoiding the situation of spending "too long in the wood". Actually, I should be thankful for finding this out in my own tatses, because 12 year olds are cheaper tahn 16 year olds. But as I said before, this is a very good whisky by itself. Just try the side by side test and you too may be surprised.
I don't regret this purchase and it will not go to waste, but this one hereby ends my one month quest to find affordable and readily available single malts. Has this quest turned me into a scotch snob? Only when I attend Saints' games in the Superdome, I can proudly thumb my nose at their high priced blended crap and say, "You don't have my brand, so I will just get a bottle of water". Another way to save money!
Thank you so much, everyone!!!