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Highland Park 18 Year Old

Comparing Notes: Time is Ripe

0 588

@vanPeltReview by @vanPelt

28th Feb 2014

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    88

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I think this is my first "re-review". After an initially poor experience with HP18, which I reviewed here earlier (connosr.com/reviews/highland-park/…), I heeded advice from this website and let a sample (from someone else's fresh bottle) oxidize for half a year. Yes, I really want to find the appreciation that others have expressed.... I had first sampled the un-aged spirit, to be sure I would really observe the effects of aging, and I confirmed the same negative aspects as I had earlier: the sourish entrance, metallic notes etc. So here we are, 6 months later...

First vapor: Cherry vanilla hay.

Nose evolution: Blossoms of cherry and orange, at first. Then some salted cashew joins, still delicate. Later comes peach, my favorite part, which starts thickening with splendid banana and butter. Finally a background of vanilla and hay is noticeable. Overall impression is now buttery blossomy peach, with nut and hay. And still quite delicate.

Palate: Buttery guava (or maybe papaya) enters with a touch of salty lemon. Transitions through a hay and cinders phase mid-palate, not excellent but interesting. Settles into a wonderful peach, as found in the nose. Ginger tingles with cashew and the peach, into the finish.

Finish: Peachy and nutty on the tongue; also buttery but more so in the throat; and gingery in the cheeks.

Overall, the aged HP18 was much better than fresh-- enough to support the purchase of my own bottle when I recently found one for 64 Euros. I see that my old notes describe the nose similarly, except this time I did not notice it decaying. What I really like now, contrasted with earlier, is the prominence of tropical/peach tones in the palate, reminiscent of mango or passion fruit. Added to this, the entrance was far improved: the earlier sour (and metallic) entrance was much more toned down, instead transformed into those salty tropical notes. Now I also realize that the elements I'd found "missing" in my previous review (peaty, creamy, nutty) were now more noticeable (as cinders, buttery, cashew).

To me, the verdict is obvious: let this one ripen in the bottle for ample time.

Similar malts? (This is never easy...) Now I find the aged 18yo closer to some other light & delicate-yet-flavorful masterpieces. The Ealanta comes to mind, for its ginger-tropical lightness, but it is otherwise quite different in character. I found my recent tasting of the Arran 16 to be quite similar to the HP18; but the Arran is not tropical/ashy, but rather with more honey/nutmeg. At the moment the Arran appears to provide better value, based on online prices. (The Arran 14 was not so similar though; I found it oakier, among other differences.) Finally, I admit I find resemblance to the slightly older HP21, although that had more syrup and strawberry character by my palate. (connosr.com/reviews/highland-park/…) The 21 was certainly different and I daresay better, but I found them similar enough in character to warrant comparison (and substitution is definitely warranted by today's price difference).

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5 comments

Rigmorole commented

Super cool review. My kind of experimentation. I will try this experiment for sure

5 years ago 0

@vanPelt
vanPelt commented

Thanks @rigmorole. It would be best if I could appreciate it fresh, as others have (e.g. your 2nd rating of 94). But even if I ignore the negative aspects I found, I still think there is very little "character" to fall in love with-- as others have done, for some reason. (Apparently that reason is related to "balance".)

But I'm grateful for many Connosr mentions of the effect of aging (e.g. comments in your 1st rating of 41).

5 years ago 0

@vanPelt
vanPelt commented

Speaking of which... I'm not aware of another "before-and-after" comparison, but here is a collection of Connosr pages that mention the effects of aging and oxidizing, for the HP18:

@Victor's "list" that HP needs 4 months before decanting: connosr.com/lists/315299/… also @Victor's comment that 8 months is too much: connosr.com/wall/discussion/… @Pizaro's similar experiment: connosr.com/reviews/highland-park/… @Onibubba's changing attitude: connosr.com/reviews/highland-park/… @rigmorole's comments of improvement: connosr.com/reviews/highland-park/… @tjb's 8-month open bottle connosr.com/reviews/highland-park/… @wtrstrnghlt's comment: connosr.com/reviews/highland-park/… @WhiskyBee's hypothesis: connosr.com/wall/discussion/…

5 years ago 0

@vanPelt
vanPelt commented

Thanks for the heads up @rigmorole. I don't think you meant it to be the same experiment, but it's interesting that it sounds so different (sandalwood/cardamom/white-chocolate?) from what I have tasted. Then again, you do also mention that the European versions taste different.

5 years ago 0

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