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Highland Park 18 Year Old

Fruit and darkness

0 384

@NockReview by @Nock

14th Oct 2013


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Nose: This is way less astringent and in your face then the 12yo. This is way more subtle and richer. Tons of citrus fruit – oranges, lemons, pineapple and apples are the first fruits to emerge from the thick web of ambiguity. Sherry sweetness and some lemon grass that all seems to rest on this thick foundation of smoke. The smoke is not assaulting or aggressive. In fact it seems easy to miss. It seems to stand ominously just behind oranges, peaches, and figs . . . portentous in its stillness. It is almost as if you are standing in a meadow (lemon grass) looking at a row of fruit trees. At first you simply see the abundant ripe fruit (oranges, apples, pears, figs, lemons, dates, and plums). But as your eyes pull back from the fruit you notice that these fruit trees are apart of an immense forest that harbors way more then fruit . . . Such dark fruit here.

Taste: Super sweet brown sugar. Very thick compared to the 12yo. Now a wave of sherry comes through. Only a hint of something soapy . . . but it is there.

Finish: Surprising rich fruitcake. Tons of dates, rains, plums, figs, and brown sugar. There is a hint of smoke at the end (but only a hint mind you) with a bit of mustard. This is more of that “old man’s tobacco” that I purchased years ago. None of that new hip sweet aromatic stuff I smoked at university. I would say that this is a medium short finish. Smaller and shorter then the HP 12 yo. I liked the 12 yo finish better.

Balance, Complexity: I would say that this is more balanced then the 12 and more complex. Where the sweet sherry seemed to dominate the 12yo this one is ruled by the fruit. Luckily there is a bit more here to catch my interest. Still, just a touch more peat and smoke would have pushed this over the cusp for me.

Aesthetic experience: The 18 is a hair darker then the 12 or 25yo. On second check . . . maybe the 25 is the darkest? Hard to tell. Full bodied malt. I really am unhappy with the recent bottle shape. Not that I love the previous one, but this is a step backward. It screams bourbon to me. And I dislike the different colors for the different ages. Overall, this feels cheaper to me then my old 18yo bottle.

Conclusion: I first bought this bottle when it was in the older style shape (back in 2005 or 6 maybe?). I wasn’t blown away then. Trying it again . . . still decent, but I won’t buy it again. It just isn’t my thing: too much fruit and not enough peat and spice. Still, better then the 12yo of late.

You are welcome to disagree with me. I write this only so that you have a reference to know what I look for in a whisky. And if you can't tell yet the answer is: peat and smoke. Sure, I like complexity and balance. This is one of those that is only a few points away from "buy again." If it were half the cost it is around here ($120 or so) I would probably have it as a regular (it lost a lot of points for price and Aesthetic experience). But as it stands this is not the best Whisky in the World in my book.

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Jules commented

Ouch... only 84? I'd hate to think you dropped it a few points just because of the lousy asthetics (sure a nice looking bottle is pleasant, but it doesn't affect my experience of the contents).

This is available for 85$US over here in Europe, and for that price I challenge anyone to find a more balanced, satisfying all round Scotch.

Some criticize the HP18 for being 'neither one nor the other', but that's exacltly why I like it. Each time I drink it I find something slightly different, whilst with most whisky's I have worked out the full profile by the second dram...

I'd highly recommend this to be anyones's first step into the pricier single-malts if they have so far tried mostly young variants!

5 years ago 0

Nock commented

Yes, it did lose points for aesthetics. I believe that drinking whisky is entirely an aesthetic experience (from the bottle, to the glass, to the nose, to the finish). But that is me. I don't claim this to be an authoritative assessment of this bottle. It is simply my enjoyment rating. When I buy a whisky I want to enjoy every part of it (or at least I want to "capture" my level of enjoyment at every level).

If I could buy this at $85 I might do it again. For $120 I am passing. (price also factors in for me).

@Jules I get why you and so many others like this whisky. It really does a specific style - and it does it well. It just isn't my style. Thanks for engaging me in the discussion. I can respect your love for this whisky.

5 years ago 0

Victor commented

Yes, @Jules, this is a case of interpreting the reviewer. After you get to know people here on @Connosr you know a good bit about what their taste preferences are, and how they evaluate whiskies.

@Nock is just not primarily a sherried-malts kind of guy...and then there is that bottle design...as he very directly said, above, for him, "what (he)looks for in a whisky" is mostly about "peat and smoke." He likes big strong flavours, most especially peat and smoke.

5 years ago 0

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