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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).