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Highland Park 18 Year Old

Average score from 48 reviews and 184 ratings 89

Highland Park 18 Year Old

Product details

  • Brand: Highland Park
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 43.0%
  • Age: 18 year old

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Highland Park 18 Year Old

Well as always what impacts the taste and cost of whiskey! Yes.......... AGE!/ and TIME! with this particular 18 year old highland park! It has a hefty (but not too hefty) price tag of 90.00 (70cl) now wait that might sound alot to your average amuter but guys i can assure you its much cheaper to buy a bottle, i actullay refused a shot of this in the homeland scotland because of the price of a 25ml shot of it, the cost for 25ml was (drumroll please!) £17.20!!!!!! (Holy s**t) trust me buy the bottle not a shot!.

@tomking: I would love the opportunity to purchase Highland Park 18yo for £90. Even if current stocks are not up to past standards. Unfortunately, I have not encountered HP18 at that price in several years.

@cherylnifer honest try Amazon 90.00

@sorren

Highland park 18 Highland park distillery is found on the island of Orkney, the 18yo release is part of the core range and is thought of by many as a favourite. Bottled at 43% you can’t help but think it could be a little stronger.

Nose.. It starts with a lovely fresh fruity aroma, oranges and pears, then you get a subtle heather and floral scent that massages your nostrils, before long that typical highland park smoke comes trickling in.

Palate.. It has a really nice mouth feel, fresh fruit, lots of citrus peel, vanilla and toffee, you also get spices flooding in like ginger and cinnamon, coffee notes and a bitter chocolate flavour.

Finish.. I found the finish a little dull. It faded out rather quick, yes you keep the taste of the smoke but not whisky.. Maybe I am missing something.

Thoughts.. It is a lovely drinking whisky, not overly complicated but it does have depth. The only real problem I found was the finish..

ocdwhisky.wordpress.com/category/…

@sorren, how long has your bottle of Highland Park 18 been open? It makes all the difference in the world.

From my experiences with this whisky, I would not expect it to bloom into its full flavours until the bottle is open for at least 4 months. There is a lot of discussion on Connosr regarding this observation. Several people who were initially all about, "Why do people go crazy over this whisky? My bottle doesn't have much flavour!" became, "Oh, now I see what they mean." after they gave it a few more months in the open bottle.

Victor, I am not sure how long the bottle had been open, I know my first sample was a bottle I finished about 6 months ago and 2nd sample was from a bottle possibly opened 2 months ago. The actual whisky was fine and had plenty of flavour, it was only the finish I found dissapointing.. I know the highland parks open up after time, I found that with my very first 12yo, I was amazed how much it changed.

@Cunundrum

Scent: Bit-o-honey, light smoke, caramel, dried cut grass, Asian pear, cumin, buttered toast. In the mouth, this whisky reveals more sweetness that borders on cloying. Over some fruit, the smoke rises to the tip of the tongue and there is a hint of peat but not much. On the finish, I get some coffee, dark chocolate and a little oak, along with something like sea mist and the haunting ghost of something like peat.

Even though the above review sounds pleasant enough, I feel as though Highland Park's 12 and 18 have slipped a few notches over the last half decade. The 15 has remained consistent and I find that in many ways I like it better than its older and younger siblings today as a result, whereas I used to favor the 18 as a great deal for the money. In my town, a bottle of the 15 is $90 American, which seems a bit steep for what you get, however.

I don't buy bottles of 12 any longer, nor the 18. I had a little bottle of 18 left in my cabinet, and so I brought it out to taste as a way to usher in my birthday today. This whisky sample was poured in a bar a week and a half ago from a glass that I didn't want to drink on premises (a fairly stingy shot poured into a giant tumbler in a loud bar that ended up not suiting my mood). I had been curious how the 18 tasted these days. My initial impression of the 18 in the bar was worse than here at home. The bottle was opened for my order and the whisky in my glass, despite its cavernous dimensions, had not yet breathed enough to open up and offer its best impressions.

This sample of the Highland Park 18 smelled and tasted pretty much as I suspected it would. And it was priced very high in the glass for what I got.

I think the An Cnoc 22, which is about the same price as the HP 18, is far more for the money, and in the same basic ballpark, admittedly without the hint of peat and smoke.

In my town, the An Cnoc 22 costs $150 and the HP18 costs $140, a mere ten dollar difference. This said, oddly enough, the An Cnoc 18 costs $180, a figure that I find preposterous even though I have not tasted it. At a price like that, I won't be buying a bottle and An Cnoc never finds its way into many bars in town, so I doubt I will ever taste this broth. I noticed online that WhiskyIsrael liked it a little better than the 22. On the other hand, Christopher Null at Drink Hacker gave it a B-, which is a very low mark indeed on his scale (he tends rarely to go below a B for malts in this category). Recently, he gave HP Dark Origins and A-, for instance. If anything, Null tends to overrate whiskies, so that's yet another black mark in my book, along with a prohibitive price.

As always, Highland Park 18 covers all of the bases with a heroic swing and crack of the bat, catapulting the senses from sweet to peat but this time only a little toe hits the bags.

The old Highland Park 18 evidently was a tough act to follow, even for Highland Park.

As for the 12, I also liked that better back around five or six years ago. Still, I have ordered the 12 in bars now and again when the only other scotches to choose from are the likes of lower echelon Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, or Bowmore Legend, which happens all too often in bars and restaurants (unfortunately without even the HP12). I would rather order a glass of water than Glenlivet 12. I'm sorry if somebody out there loves the Livet 12, it's just not my thing.

As for HP 18, I would drink it gladly at a friend's house, and my contribution to the conversation would be respectfully animated as a result. Another pleaser that is not a "wow" whisky is the Tomintoul 21. Not great, but very nice if and when it is offered. Like the HP 18, there is not a lot to dislike in the Tomintoul 21. Last I checked, it was about forty dollars cheaper than the HP 18. A great whisky for parties with drinkers that admire labels more than noses and palates, but certainly know to steer clear from a bad whisky when they taste one. As for my own personal collection, I own a bottle of An Cnoc 22. Would I buy a bottle of the 21 year old Toul for 100 bucks? Yes, I would.

@Uisgebetha

I don’t have a lot to say about this malt from my handwritten notes, but that’s probably because I was enjoying the whisky so much.

Rose gold in colour and a rich fruity aroma replete with blackcurrants and cherries, with a supporting cast of sherry, butter and sandal wood.

A full bodied dram with a little more attack than I expected. The fruit is very evident with some strawberries thrown in with the cherries and blackcurrants. The fruits are offset by a healthy dose of malt some very soft peat and buttery hints. Absolutely gorgeous, definitely one of my desert island malts.

I don’t know if the finish is that bad but it comes as a letdown to me, a touch hollow somehow. Spicier and dryer with the fruits making an early exit.

Not sure how much better HP25 can be, but I would also like to sample some, preferably at someone else's expense...

I will always keep a bottle of HP18 around. One of my favorites for sure. I love the soft peat used in HP18. I hope to one day sample HP25.

@MaltActivist

I've done a review before of the Highland Park 18 but that was back when I didn't know my peat from a kiln. I'd like to think I've come a long way from then. However, what's true is that I loved it back then and I love it still.

Highland Park routinely use Oloroso Sherry casks to mature their spirit but what gives their spirits it's unique profile is the peat that they use. Orcadian peat, sourced locally, is predominately compressed herbacious plants and heather (unlike peat from farther south, which is partially formed with tree matter and/or seaweed). The peat character is mild, however, as only 20% of the mashbill comes from Highland Park’s own floor maltings (and of that, only half is peated). The rest is unpeated malt imported from the Scottish mainland

This little dance between heavily sherried casks and lightly peated spirit is what sets their expressions apart from the others.

Nose: The sherry is perfectly balanced against a back drop of green leaves and a touch of delicate peaty smoke. It's a bit tinny to start off with but that tapers off as you let it breathe a touch. Subtle hints of cereal and juniper berries amid a crush of red grapes. Brilliantly balanced.

Palate: That delicate smoke is back and with it a fine salty creme caramel. Then a cinnamon dusted fennel with an underlying of chocolate spread.

Finish: Long with lovely black pepper and smoked chocolate.

There is probably not a lot that can be said about this malt that has already been said but it certainly needs to be reiterated.

I like the European HP 18 more than most American releases that I've tasted over the past few years. I wish I could get the European ones over hear. I notice the difference in color, as well. The European/UK releases are lighter in color and taste much better to me.

@vanPelt

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).

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/…

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).

@tjb

My bottle has been open since July 13. It has been in my glass for 30 minutes and ready to go. This is a wonderful Whisky which is worth the hype.

The nose tells you this is a complex dram. Oak, honey, malt, grassy, dusty old books, a waft of smoke and apple peel.

This is creamy and smooth. Slight salt, apples, smokey, peat and orange peel.

The finish is medium long. It is peppery and had leaves a warming spicy tingle on the gums.

For the money it's wonderful. It isn't challenging. It's complex but gives itself p you easily which makes it very easy to drink while offering more and more profiles if you look for them.

Lovely!

i bought this bottle for £58 in July 13. Now the cheapest I can see it for is about £85, that's nearly a 50% increase in 18 months. This really is a terrific bottle but the prices are getting silly.

@Onibubba

In my short time as a whisky freak, no malt has grown on me as much as Highland Park 18YO. I first had this at a bar, and was not impressed. I suppose compared to some of the peatier malts I had, it just could not stand out. Several months later, I tried a sampler bottle of the 18. Without the distraction of more overpowering malts, I thought, "Nice." Nice enough to buy a bottle. It was good, but not a repeat purchase. But then, I did purchase it again. And again. And as I drink this yet again tonight, I feel compelled to share these thoughts.

Beautiful aroma, full of roasted sweet meats, honey, saffron, peanut brittle. Very little smoke and peat, but it is there - if you are willing to wait for it.

Sweet with a slight burn, and some salinity. Hazelnuts and nougat. A nice wood presence, which is slightly drying and only bitter enough to prevent the whisky from becoming cloying.

Finishes with orange peel, and just a bit of anise. Nice.

Sadly, the price of this beauty is rising. What was regularly available at 100, is now 130. So I advise, do what I do - Buy those hundred dollar bottles up now. Once you become hooked, you'll not want to be without this one.

I've had bad experiences lately with both HP18 and Glenfarclas 17. My friend bought a bottle of the 17 and it tasted like sulfur. Really bad. There was no cork rot. As for the HP18, it's a longstanding favorite of mine. I opened a bad bottle some time ago, and then got a very good bottle that was in the top few of the year. I went out and bought another, but haven't opened it yet. I'm kind of anxious. I did get it at a different store from the other bad one, but I'm hoping. When the HP18 is good, it's REALLY good. If you are on the fence about buying an 18, might I suggest you set your eyes a bit higher on the 25? They will also be phased out, and even faster than the 18's. Now is the time to jump on a bottle of 25. I predict it will become a collector's item in a few years. As for the 18, yes, it, too, but the 25 is worth saving I think if that's your thing. I'm not a big collector but I'm thinking of springing for a bottle. I've never tasted it before. My fear: could be too oaky for my taste.

Paddockjudge, I had the Glenfarclas 17 once, at a bar. Same scenario as the HP18 - it failed to impress. I will revisit this range though.

Rigmorole, I have my eye on an IB G&M 24YO. Proof is just at 86, but that is the standard for HP. Price is 140. The official 25 however, is out of my comfort zone at 380.

I've had a few older bottles, and I know what you mean about too much oak. I had a 34 YO Old Pulteney (IB) that sucked the moisture out of my mouth. It was good, but, ouch. It left splinters :) Maybe 5 -10 years too long in the wood.

I am a whisky hoarder, but have no intention on selling - maybe trade at some point. But I hoard for drinking. My fear is that prices are only going to continue escalating, and NAS whiskies are going to edge out the dwindling older stocks. I shudder to think what the marketplace will look like in just 3 years. But regardless, I'll be sitting in the catbird seat!

@Aulay

I bought this bottle expecting a great deal. It did not disappoint. There are few bottlings which have such a mass appeal to the Peatheads, Sherried fans and Speysiders too.

Love the toffee, peat smoke and honeyed malt taste. This is a desert island dram for me along with Ardbeg Uigeadail. Slainte Mhath!!

Not sure I completely agree with the lighter colour being better but I'll take note on the HP's from now on. Please read my recent review of the Leif Eriksson Release. The LE was a much lighter colour and while I did indeed like it, it just needed more strength/bite to it.

Go for the light colored scotch as in the illustration here. The lighter, the tastier when it comes to HP18

@Jules

Well, I am aware that my review will add nothing to what has already been said, but I like this so much I just need to post it!

For me this manages to cram everything I like about scotch onto one delicious bottle. And in balance... The smokey/sherried nose... the honey & heather on the tip of your tongue along with toffee, salt & fruity brown sugar on the palate... then that sweet & peppery finish... LOVE IT!!

The only thing that could improve this i.m.o is if it had more body to it. A 46% bottling would have served it well I think.

What I love it the balance of sweet & smokey - the waves of smoke are subtle but most definitely present, and seem to come and go as you sip.

Definitely one of my 3 desert island drams, along with Lag'16 & Glenfarclas 15

@Nock

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.

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!

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.

@Georgy

NOSE: delicate complex nose with strawberries, cranberries and cherries, creamy, toffee, marmalade, distant note of peat. A bit herbal. With water it gets much richer and creamier.

TASTE: sweet and sour, creamy sherry, berries with the peat note towards the finish.

FINISH: tannins, fruity, a bit of smoke.

@MisterDigger

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!!!

I'm puzzled why you gave your bottle of 18 Year an 89 if you feel this way. At any rate, here are some suggestions. I feel your pain. You went all out, Digger.

Your own private blend of one part Caol Ila 12 and three or four parts Highland Park 12 (depending on how smoky you want it). Mix the two and then let them comingle in a sealed bottle for a week or so before trying it. You won't be disappointed. Glenfarclas 21; you can do it. For all you've spent it's not that much more and it is a supremely satisfying scotch that will not disappoint. Don't think about the $$ signs after you buy it; think in terms of olefactory satisfaction. Auchentoshan Three Wood Longmorn 15 (NOT the 16) Springbank Claret Wood 12 Glengoyne 17 (it's only $65 in my state) Best of luck. Hang in there! Order out of state from either Binny's or K&L. One of them is bound to be legal in your state. p.s. Are you a retired undertaker or a funeral director? Thanks for your candor and up-front honesty. I appreciate it.

Rigmorole: Thank you so much for the tips on how long my investment will last. At the rate of one ounce per day sipped every single day, I have enough to last a whole year without buying anything else. Suddenly, what I have spent in the last month on all of this does not seem so bad, when I will have to make it last. One thing I can say from being a hard drinking Harley man is that single malts have the absolute lowest penalty the next day, whereas blends do not because of the crap that is added to reduce costs and increase profits.

On another note, since phenol is a fuel and antiseptic, one would think that this would act as a preservative and make the scotch spoil LESS quickly. Why is it the other way around? On still another note, many bourbon collectors use nitrogen to take the place of the air in the bottle, thus removing the 20% oxygen in the air that we breathe. I imagine that doing this would make the whisky last almost forever. And God forbid, place the scotch into air tight containers, but the plastics in those flexible bags would absolutely ruin it.

@vanPelt

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....

@markjedi1

After the one from the old dumpy bottle from an era long gone, on to this modern 18 Year Old from 2007.

The nose is rather closed, but opens up if you are patient. Grassy and clean, with apples and walnuts mostly. Soft toffee and sweetened butter. Only a tiny bit of smoke. Some mint for a fresh touch. Almost no spices to speak of. Give it fifteen minutes and it will become quite beautiful.

Powerful attack and pretty spicy. Liquorice, peat, lot of smoke now. A salty lining. But pretty fruity as well. Apples, pears and some blood oranges. A hint of coffee.

It is mostly that peat and coffee that return in the spicy, medium length finish. Salty at the death.

The nose needed time, but the palate and especially the finish make this a classic that is quite indispensible in any cabinet.

@Rantavahti

Highland Park 18 year old was surely a treat all the way. Only the nose was a bit too sophisticated for my taste, but everything lacking in the aromas were definitely topped in taste and finish. I was already a fan of Highland Park 12 yrs. The 6 years older version managed to make me a fan of the whole distillery.

Highland Park 18 has a bit more depth in the smokiness when compared to the 12 year old. It also has very much character and for 18 year old whisky, it's surprisingly sharp, especially in the finish.

HP18 is like The International, an intriguing film with Clive Owen leading the way. The International offers lots of excitement with great action scenes but it's also a story that makes the audience think. It's like the complexity of HP18 combined with the sharp smoky edges that represent the banging action scenes in my reference.

Highland Park 18 is also highly appreciated and awarded which literally makes it The International. Surely a dram enjoyed very well all over the world, no matter what the situation is or where you come from. I'm sure it's a whisky for everyone.

Nose: Very smooth with dried fruits and floral notes. Delicately smoky with toffee.

Taste: Very rich in a creamy palate. Oranges, toffee and honey with lingering oak. The sharp but subtle smoke sneaks in and follows you in the finish as well. That's definitely my favorite part of Highland Park 18!

Finish: Round, spicy and long finish that manages to offer you many different things to chew on. Honey and peat are the main things but the deep smoke comes sharply from the background.

Balance: Rich with flavors and in good balance, only exception is the soft nose. Offers lots of nice sensations in a full and smooth but sharp package. I can easily see why this is so highly awarded and nominated all over the world.

Nice review. I enjoyed your allusion to the movie. I recently revisited my bottle of HP18 and mostly agree with your assessment of it. I do also find the nose lacking quite a bit. I do find that it is a bit too thin on my palate. Besides that, probably one of the best balanced malts around.

Thanks, I try to combine two of my favorite things in my reviews (sometimes it's easy, sometimes I just grab a movie reference because of the title or some other easy element)

HP18 was very interesting with the exception of the weak nose...so strong taste & finish for a single malt of that age. I've tasted 3 from the HP range so far and all of 'em have been great.

@T4sho3

I’ve heard a lot about this bottle and wanted to broaden my horizons so I indulged, let’s begin.

The nose has sherry cask, old oak, light fruit, tangy citrus, hints of rum cask, cherry wood, this nose is complex light and delivers layers if you allow it, in the background leather….quite enjoyable, toffee, pudding and malt

The taste of old rich oak, tastes older than the 18 year old statement, the mouth feel has an alcoholic spice to it, honey spice to be exact, cherry, strawberry jam, Oak! Oak! Oak! In a great way……imagine smelling a cellar with old whisky barrels maturing before you

The finish of earth spices, dry then exploding into a mouth watering extravaganza, medium but absolutely delightful finish

Final thoughts are that this whisky is a whisky that has to be tried at least once in a life time. I wish this bottle was below the $100 US mark, one can dream…………lovely dram, the more time you give this whisky the more the whisky gives back. Cheers!

Great review, man. Glad you enjoyed it! Love the oak spice and honey in this one. As much as I love the 12 year, this is the one that if you really take your time with it will reward you big time.

@teebone673

Always a favorite of mine. I'm also a big fan of the 12 year HP. But where the 12 year is great, this one is special.

Nose: Honey, Peat, Smoke, Orange, Custard, Oak, Floral

Palate: Gobs of Honey, Wood Spice, Peat (not as much as the nose), Cinnamon, Ginger, Toffee, Slightly Salty

Finish: Long. Honey (imagine that), Cinnamon, Peat, a little Smoke, Spicy Oak

Beautiful. A straight winner. Like I said...Special.

I like your use of "gobs" and "custard." Two nouns you don't hear much in reviews.

Awesome review Im excited to try the HP18, haven't been able to review mine yet I have a head cold but will review as soon as I'm better

R

Well, I recently got a bottle of HP18, and I must say that it is as superb as I remember it being over the years.

Here are my tasting notes:

On the nose, I am welcomed by orange blossom, lychee, cedar, and vanilla. The palette does not disappoint, with a full rich mouth feel complimented by sea salt caramel, white chocolate, nutmeg, cinnamon, peppercorn, and baked red apples.

There is also some clover honey that helps to form a bridge into the finish, which is long, and generously sweet, yet also a bit smoky, with echoes of the white chocolate, spices, and macadamia nut.

The final impression is one of anise and chimney smoke co-mingling on an autumn evening after the leaves have just fallen and the ground is fragrant and fertile before the cold weather sets in. Breathe deep. The after effects of the whisky are invigorating through the nostrils, reminding one of the exhilaration of breathing richly oxygenated atmosphere of late autumn on the 45th parallel of the globe (where I happen to live).

Highland Park 18 is a mainstay in my cabinet. I have always taken pride in offering it to my guests (male and female) that have an appreciation for fine whisky. It has a little bit of everything for everyone. Even hardcore peat-heads will not turn up their noses at a glass of this magic!

For me, it is delightful any time of year. Indeed, the Eighteen holds its own with delicately balanced Japanese summery scotches and also the hearty full-bodied Islay scotches. One tip that I can offer in the selection of a bottle is this: look for the lightest color possible inside. Thankfully, the bottle is clear and provides an accurate window into the whisky inside, especially with its flat shape. Hold its broad side up to the light. Sometimes you can come across darker colored batches, which, in my estimation, are not quite as satisfying. When it comes to HP18, lighter is indeed better.

I have to admit I'm a a slightly confused. Your review of the same whisky dated Feb 7th slated the HP18 and have it 41 points.

This is what you said in your conclusion "I've been ripped off and I'm not afraid to say it. I will NEVER buy another bottle of HP 18 again, ever. This said, I think the 12 year HP is quite reliable. However, I will not buy a bottle of that for many years to come. Highland Park is now on my "do not buy" list for swindling me out of $104 of my hard earned money."

Now you say it's a mainstay.

Got a refund from the liquor store on that bad bottle. Had a glass of the HP 18 at a friend's house some time later and it was awesome. Went for it and got another bottle. It's terrific. Not sure if the last one was suffering from cork spoilage or something else. At any rate, I'm back to my happy old self when it comes to HP18. The bad bottle was noticeably darker in color than usual. That's why I mentioned the bit about darkness. Not sure if it was just that one bottle, or if it's more common. At any rate, it could have just been some kind of spoilage.

K

As my profile says, I am very very new to whisky but as a Scot it was about time I gave it a real try. As a present to me I was given a few quid to buy a few bottles in so selected a bottle each from the main regions of Scotland. This is my favourite by far. Incredibly smooth. The aromas don't knock you out but are subtle. Definitely a hint of peat and so smooth to drink. I'm not getting any real after burn but that suits me at the moment. No doubt when I get further into my venture my tastes will change but loving this one at the moment.

@Kam1962 - Welcome to Connosr and to the wonderful world of whisky! Your tastes may change over time, but I doubt that you'll ever outgrow this one. HP 18 is a one of the classics, much loved by whisky drinkers everywhere.

Your cabinet may be on the small side at this time, but you've made some excellent choices. You're off to a fine start. Sláinte!

R

I just put over $100 of my hard earned money down on the counter of the liquor store last week for a serious dud of a whisky: Highland Park 18.

Yes, I know, HP 18 can be absolutely heavenly when at its best.

However . . . the bottle in my house at the moment is absolute SWILL and not even as good as some HP Twelves that I've tasted.

I realize that it sometimes takes a bottle some time to "break in" as it were. The level is down about two inches on mine. Believe me, it's not improving.

Two months ago, I tasted a glass of HP 18 at The Branch in NE Portland that was cracking, absolutely cracking.

Not so with the bottle I paid for. I am VERY disappointed and VERY frustrated with HIghland Park distillery.

Shame on you, Highland Park, for selling such an uneven product! For shame! This bottle is not worth half of what I paid for it!

Nose: Wet moss, red dirt, stale butterscotch, cottage cheese, cut ivy

Palette: cheap rye bourbon, sweet caramel, sour cream cake icing, over oxygenated and tired 12 year HP gasping its last mortal breath before giving up the ghost and coming back as a zombie.

Finish: Short, unsatisfying, more of the palette. Blah!

I've been ripped off and I'm not afraid to say it. I will NEVER buy another bottle of HP 18 again, ever. This said, I think the 12 year HP is quite reliable. However, I will not buy a bottle of that for many years to come. Highland Park is now on my "do not buy" list for swindling me out of $104 of my hard earned money.

I poured a glass and left it out for thirty minutes. Here are my findings: --Nose: Vanilla, cheap bourbon, gentle smoke, yellow cake --Palatte: Lemon, sharp unpleasant tang, sugary toffee; forced mingling of flavors --Finish: lingers longer than last night; stale butterscotch, tang of a cheap Speyside, last dollop of nicer vanilla that faintly reminds me of a good batch of HP 18.

Rating with more air: 62 The ABV seems a tad higher to me than the usual 43%, which is curious. Whisky from this bottle does better with a touch of water. I normally have never added water to HP 18 in the past.

Yes, the whisky in my final taste taste is noticeably better with more time in the glass, and with the bottle level going down. This leads me to believe that the integrity of the whisky is fine; rather it is the batch that is to blame. I must say though that the dirt/mossy nose has all but gone away now. I no longer detect it.

The whisky in my glass right now is a FAR CRY from the 18 Year HP that I have known and loved for the past few years. I now do not believe there is a some sort of damage to the batch, such as cork spoilage. I think it is simply a newer batch that does hold a candle to what I have grown accustomed to over the past few years.

I helped myself to a "hearty" dram of the HP 18 yr last night (hadn't had any in roughly several months).

Within a few minutes after my 1st sip last evening - I sorta noticed that odd feeling that I haven't had in years...I cannot tolerate neither wine, nor champagne due to the headaches that I tend to get from both (is it the sulfites?), and last night I sensed I would have one.

After finishing the HP 18 yr, I then helped myself to an old stand-by - the Balvenie 15 yr Single Barrel (just 1 "hearty dram" - nothing more).

Sure enough - this morning I woke up with a head pounder; not from too much alcohol consumption, but from what I gather is something that I didn't tolerate that may have been in the HP 18.

I must admit; last night I wasn't too impressed with the HP 18 yr, and from what I remember - both the 12 yr, and 15 yr are better...Last night's Balvenie tasted great in comparison.

Wondering if I have one of those "off bottlings"?..Looks as though mine was bottled in 2010 (code on the back of the label reads 'L0092K' - I'm guessing it was bottled on the 92nd day of 2010).

End of ramble.

@abunadhMatada

First, I was torn between the aberlour 18 and the HP18. I've decided to go with HP18 because I've heard so much about this whisky being considered as one of the best whisky out there. Suppose to be very balanced.

I had this with a couple of friends yesterday after having some Rum. Which turned out to be a bad idea, I think. Because the scotch tasted very off. Now, it could've been that it needed some time to open up, like some reviewers were mentioning. But it had this burnt rubbery taste at the end that was not pleasant. It was actually pretty difficult to drink. But I did not give up on this scotch.

Took it to the super bowl party tonight and shared with some of my buddies, and tonight HP18 was a different beast(in a good way). It didn't have any of the burnt rubbery taste, instead I got a pleasant peat smoke that I was expecting.

It was a golden amber color in the bottle. Nose of sweet toffee, brown sugar, ripe fruits in the front and hint of peat and some smokines . On the palate slight sherry, toffee, hint of butter scotch, more peat than the nose indicated, with a long smokey finish. Very good whisky indeed. It does everything very good with balance and finesse.

I feel that having a sweet rum before the HP18 made my first tasting very unpleasant. How much can a whisky change in one day?? Anyways I'm very glad about this purchase and will be enjoying the rest of the bottle.

@UisgeJon

If you read my previous review of the Macallan 18, you know that the Macallan ended up in my hand on accident... and what a beautiful accident it was! However, THIS is really what I came to order. Treating myself to the Macallan 18 and the Highland Park 18 in one night was a fantastic desicion.

Nose: Peat, campfire smoke, swirling with fruit and sherry. I love it. A bit of saltiness there too, which is great. Quiet, but powerful. Balanced.

Palate: My kind of dram. Warm, peaty, smoky, but really remarkably intricated with fruits, salt and sweetness. You get the best of all worlds here. The mesquite campfire smoke is incredibly enjoyable. Biiiiig smiles here!

Finish: Long, oaky, smoky, warm... in my opinion, the way it should be. A swirl of sherry and fruit creeps back into view too, reminding you that they're thre.

Putting this next to the Macallan 18 is a tough prospect. Both incredibly delightful drams, for two very different reasons. For a straight-up sweetness and sherry influence, Mac 18 is perfect. For the smokiness and more complexity, HP 18 is a gem. Can't compare the two, they are both delightful depending on what you're in the mood for.

This is interesting ! I just had both the glenrothes select reserve and hp 18 last week. I wonder if the hp 18 has been open for awhile when you ordered it because it has the tendency to go towards the smoky route after its been open. At my scotch event we cracked the bottle open then and there...so there were a lot if tannins and sherry/maraschino profile white the smoke was secondary. My hp st. Magnus had a dark chocolate plum coffee profile at first and 3 months later it was Britney. But all in all the characteristics were great and yummy

I'm pretty sure this bottle had been open a while. That's one draw-back of getting a Whisky at a bar - you never know how long it has been open. This bottle was over half gone, so it's quite possible it was opened a while ago. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but it would be interesting to try a fresh bottle!

The St. Magnus seems like a fantastic bottle. Highland Park has so many expressions. It would be amazing to have the chance to try all of them some day. One can dream, can't he?

@Pizaro

It took awhile…

As if a woman I’d long been longing to hold, but who had resisted me, teasing then turning away, warm but not generous, non-committal, has finally answered my entreaties with a full, whole-hearted, loving embrace.

More than a wink, this time she fulfills all promise and slays me with her charms.

Highland Park 18 is one of those whiskies one hears about as a consistent pinnacle of the distiller’s art, a high point, one of the great ones. However, when I first bought a bottle, maybe two months ago, it did not – in my opinion – live up to it’s reputation. Rich, warm, many layered – no aspect of the nose, palate or finish had anything wrong about it. It just wasn’t the masterpiece I had been led to expect.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I read on this site a few comments about this whisky that got me interested again. The two posts (sorry, I forgot who wrote them) suggested that HP18 improves over time once opened – that a bit of oxidation is good for her. One post even suggested pouring it – roughly – into a decanter and letting it sit for two or three weeks.

Well, I took that advice, even shook it up a bit before putting it aside. I am so glad I did! What a difference a shake and a fortnight make!

The nose has opened and broadened. Baked fruits, heathery honey, butter and salt, just a hint of peatiness. And something just a bit sharper, brighter, rising up with the fuming alcohol – salted celery, perhaps? A hint of smoky pineapple? In any case, if a woman smelled like this, I would propose marriage even before opening my eyes to see her!

The palate delivers on the promise and adds more layers of honey, butter, fresh sweet cream in a warming pan, stewed fruits in a refined body oil texture. Ground almonds? There’s a malty sensuality here that is exciting, but soothing and serene.

Now that I’ve proposed and fallen head over heals, will she say yes?

The finish is where she takes your hand, kisses you passionately and holds you in a warm, lasting, sensuous, honey-spiced, flowing nocturnal embrace that spreads its elegant heat through your chest, cradling your now submissive heart in soft spirit fire. Yes, she says – Oh, yes, let’s do it again!

Terrific review. Any idea if your bottle was a newer one or an older one? I've heard that the Highland Park 18 is getting a little more uneven, batch by batch these days.

I'm planning on buying a bottle soon, and I was wondering if it was worth my while to try to find an older bottle somehow. I see you are on the East Coast. A straight shot from Scotland, so to speak, as compared with the Pacific Northwest where I live.

Does the 18 identify batches as such or the year it was bottled? I would imagine so. Maybe I need to make a scouting trip to the liquor store. The store near me probably has a very high turnover, so the bottles are probably on the newer side. That is my concern.

I have tasted the 18 several times in bars, but never actually owned my own bottle yet. I have loved the stuff in bars in Oregon. One of my favorites for sure.

Brilliant Review. Highland Park 18 has always been one of my favourite whisky's good to see others enjoying it. You should give the 25 and 30 a go, they sell on whisky exchange in miniatures so you can give them a try without the cash investment of a full bottle of older whisky.

@rigmorole, about your question on batch variation HP18 does have some batch variation, though in my experience it isn't anything major a 'bad' batch would be good-very good where their 'good' batches are great. At least in my experience I've never had a glass that was bad. Also as far as I know there isn't a way to identify when the bottle was bottled, if it is possible I'd like to know as well.

n

Well, another regular pleaser that I haven't had in years. Let's see how it holds up

Nose: Honey, grass, and an interesting smoke-burning tire, but without being acrid. Salt and sea-water behind dried fruit and candied nuts. It's a pretty fun combination, and very well integrated. Vanilla and eucalyptus top a green apple crumble that's heavy on sweet baked bits. The nose is elegant and enticing. Sweet, salty, floral, fruity, and smoky. Deeelish.

Palate: Flabbier and lighter than I'd have expected from the nose. Similar base, honey, wood, lemon and non-sour kumquats. Salted vanilla ice cream (woohoo!) and maybe chocolate malt. The wood creates this great mushroom and earthy strand, and then helps to tighten up the flavors at the mid-palate.

Finish: Lemon and salt. The wood has something of artificial sweetness to me (Hi and Low - aspartame), which puts me off somewhat. I can see why so many swear by HP, and I liked it, though I was distracted at points and it left that awkward sweetness for me (especially after the honey was so well done)! B-/B

J

I've always loved the highland park range, and I've had the Highland Park 18 on many occasions. Finally have one in front of me to review.

Nose: Some good sherry and thick honey notes, sticky stewed fruits and some dried apple, toffee, some smooth notes of peat and campfire cinder smoke, some sea sprey and slight floral notes.

Palate: starts out quite dry and oak like but becomes very juicy, leads off with it's sherry oak influence, Lovely sweet notes of honey and honeycomb, Slightly salty with notes of the sea then leading into some peat, smoke from a good campfire.

Finish: trails of with a very smooth taste of peat and smoke, slightly fruity still and sweet notes of thick fresh honey.

This is my favourite general standard range whisky from any distillery. It is truly great stuff. In a way it has every note of scotch (sherry, slaty, honey, floral, peaty ect) all in perfect balance. Still by favourite general bottle.

J

I've always loved the highland park range, and I've had the Highland Park 18 on many occasions. Finally have one in front of me to review.

Nose: Some good sherry and thick honey notes, sticky stewed fruits and some dried apple, toffee, some smooth notes of peat and campfire cinder smoke, some sea sprey and slight floral notes.

Palate: starts out quite dry and oak like but becomes very juicy, leads off with it's sherry oak influence, Lovely sweet notes of honey and honeycomb, Slightly salty with notes of the sea then leading into some peat, smoke from a good campfire.

Finish: trails of with a very smooth taste of peat and smoke, slightly fruity still and sweet notes of thick fresh honey.

This is my favourite general standard range whisky from any distillery. It is truly great stuff. In a way it has every note of scotch (sherry, slaty, honey, floral, peaty ect) all in perfect balance. Still by favourite general bottle.

@Dram1

The nose of this dram is endless pleasure with prunes,sweetness,honey, nectar, cantaloupe, mature caramel, floral, meadow, salted butter and smoke. The palate is fill of zest, spice, toffee, salt lick, orange hues, salted peanuts. The finish is long, salty, spicy, zesty.

@MaltActivist

A single malt this good? Such an absolutely complex whisky. Starts of discerningly sweet and floral and then suddenly out of no where the fragrant smoky oak hits you at the back of the throat. Such a pleasant contrast. The start and finish are so different it's almost like tasting two malts - that are made for each other. Awesome!

My favourite Highland Park (and that's saying something...) - and one of my favourite whiskies of all time...

c

I've been wanting to try this bottle for some time now, and finally decided to splurge a bit.

The nose is light smoke/peat, with orange toffee. Very pleasant.

Palate: Light but oh-so-tasty. Nice sherry flavor that's not overwhelming. Also fruity, although I could not pinpoint a specific fruit.

Finish: Awesome. Mouth-coating, lingering finish. Light orange and smoke. Really smooth. I was underwhelmed at first but I wanted to drink more and more. Balanced was the first word that came to mind.

Excellent review, completely agree.

@MaltActivist

This Highlander is possibly the best value for money single malt out there. The nose is beautifully smoky with a deft touch of vanilla infused apples. Toffee, caramel and honey flow over the palate in one of the smoothest deliveries I've ever had. As it goes down the it brings up a beautifully balanced bouquet of warm, intimate spices. Finally the finish is satisfyingly long and dry. This one is a Must Have!

I love this whisky but only at 47% that you can still find at some airports.... Beautiful balance, texture and finish.... Liquid silk...

@whiskyfacile

This whisky, from the most northern distillery in Scotland, is told to be a perfect example of balance and complexity, and in distillery's portfolio it should represent a synthesis between youth (12 and 15 yo) and maturity (25, 30, 40 yo).

N: there's kind of everything here. There's the (usual) pear and something a bit citrusy (green apples too). Lovely notes of butter and toffee. After a while, an olfactive "sturm und drang" shows up: mostly on dried and mature fruits, that in some way recall the big familiar lunches of our childhood, with the table full of flavorous fruit. Very very good.

P: first you get acid and fruity notes, mostly on sherry and dried fruits again. Then a delicious woody taste comes out, together with a gentle smokiness and a very delicate peat. We must say that on the palate it seems to be less sweet than expected judging from the nose, even if a gentle note of honey stands out. This Higland Park tends to dry your mouth towards the finish, and all the flavours tend to exhaust, leaving room to some woodiness and peat that rarely are so harmonious and enjoyable.

F: medium lenght and intesity; when you are cuddled by a background of toffee and by the persistence of smoky wood (licorice, sometimes), this malt gives a very last surprise: some subtle saltiness on the lips, maybe a fascination coming straight from the deep oceanic north.

It is truly wonderful. The sherry impact is amazing and, even if it stays in the background, is definitely impressive and makes this malt really 'tasty'; when combined with the coastal and smoky notes, the sherry influence creates a perfectly balanced whisky, full of subtlety and complexity. The gentle peatiness is peculiar of Highland Parks, because of the fact that no trees grow on the Orkney Island. In the end, considering also the price (around 50 euros), this is a must-have for all whisky lovers: it just never bores you.

@Maude

I had heard a lot of good on this whisky before I had the pleasure to taste it myself. Some of the well known experts mention it as one of the best from the Highland Park distillery. Therefore I had great expectations for that specific whisky, and I dare to say that they were not all fulfilled, altough HP18yo is a very fine whisky. I was expecting something more explosive or provocative, but this one is not. Balance, balance and balance: that is what it is all about. But that makes it one good dram that I will drink and re-drink again!

Nose: There is definitely some peat in there, a good presence of pear and hints of honey sweetness. Very soft, I could smell it for hours.

Taste: Honey and pear again, very smooth, a good texture. After a little while the peat subtility becomes more present.

Finish: Long and enjoyable spicy finsih.

Overall, this whisky is highly enjoyable, but if nothing stands out, it is because this whisky is perfectly balanced which makes it deliciously smooth.

@Victor - Yes, your wisdom is indeed coming to pass. In fact, I found that this is even true of single pour of literally any whiskey - the pour comes out often with a strong iodine nose, etc. and sits and "breathes" (opens up) for 15 - 20 minutes - or more... I noticed that the Talisker 18 absolutely improved over about 30 minutes - and now despite my initial disappointment with that expression, I am broken hearted that it is impossible to get more in the States as far as I can tell - esp. not at the rate I paid for my first bottle.

So my point is - that "crappy" HP18 that I referenced is indeed changing literally in every respect - almost as a living being is coming alive. Now if the HP12 could hurry up and do likewise...

So I feel a lot better re: my HP18 purchase - some faith in God has been restored... (and significant faith in your wisdom).

BTW - I have also found quite a difference in the front and back palates - the front obviously being much sweeter since the sweet taste buds are located there. Does that make sense? So Palate needs to be refined a bit it seems.

@Maude, did you sample it from a newly opened bottle, or from a long-opened bottle at a bar, etc.? The reason I ask is that our newly opened bottle took a full three months for the flavours to open up to what I would call "standard HP 18" flavours. At three months bottle opened our HP18 tasted like the HP18 samples I had previously encountered at bars, etc. Whisky flavours do change a lot after the bottles are opened. I have found this to be true of HP18, and even more so (longer delay of opening) with HP12.

@Pudge72

My opportunity to sample this wonderful dram came about through a conversation with my friend who I have been chatting with about whisky for the past couple of months. I had previously introduced him to SMSW’s with a dram of Auchentoshan 12, which he found to be an eye opener, as his previous experience had been limited to blended whiskies and the basic gateway drams, which he had not been impressed by.

Subsequent conversations revolved around him wondering what I considered to be a “home run” whiskey, one that would be of consistent high quality and depth. Even though I had never had the opportunity to try it before, I mentioned that based on reviews that I had read, as well as the general consistency of the distilleries’ offerings, that Highland Park 18 would meet the criteria. This suggestion was also made on the basis that this bottle, and the distillery, seems to be considered to offer a good ‘all-around’ product that has many elements found in a variety of whisky regions, without being too reliant on one particular taste/aroma characteristic. Little did I know that my friend was looking to hit the “home run” for the inaugural bottle in his SMSW collection. Later that day, he had acquired a bottle and we each had a dram that evening. We were both instant fans.

This dram was tasted again at a later date, in a copita glass, without hand warming or water added. Now on to the notes…

Nose: The aromas take you on a trip around all of the whisky regions of Scotland. Speyside and the Lowland region were represented by a wide variety of fruit notes including peaches, apricots, and a candied aroma similar to maraschino cherries. These notes were gradually replaced by the Islands trademark notes of salt, pepper and brine, which were also mixed with a very slight note of smoke and peat, which is normally associated with Islay. The mixing of these heavier notes, albeit in lighter quantities, is something that I find common in Highland malts. A last minute emergence of apple cinnamon pie filling combined the fruit notes with the earthier components of the nose. A very complex nose that I spent over 15 minutes analyzing and enjoying.

Palate: A pleasant medium mouth feel brought the salt and pepper notes forward without out the brine. The cinnamon also re-appeared to lighten the gathering on the tongue. A clean, fresher feeling then emerged, replacing the salt and pepper with a general fruit taste.

Finish: The finish repeated the palate very nicely, with a peppery, warming sensation gradually giving way to the light, fruit based, fresh feeling. Cinnamon and other spices linger in a medium to long, very smooth finish.

Balance: There is a wonderful transition of aromas and flavours between nose, palate, and finish. Pepper, spice, and fruit sensations all transitioned frequently but effortlessly, creating a complete journey around the whisky tastes of Scotland.

Overall, this is an excellent all-around "home run" dram that every cabinet should include at some point. The subtlety of the peat, brine, and smoke notes should allow almost all whisky consumers to access a dram that provides a full spectrum of flavours and aromas.

Thank you very much for the kind comments, 'Wills'! They are appreciated. I suspect that the lack of comments is in part due to the large number of reviews that have been written about the HP 18. It is an excellent bottle that is well deserving of all of the attention.

As an update, my friend has now picked up his 2nd bottle of HP 18 (the first one disappeared rather quickly) to celebrate a new job! I hope to be acquiring a bottle of Talisker 18 in the next couple of weeks...hopefully he and I can enjoy drams from the two bottles as a comparitive exercise...you know, purely for research purposes. ;)

Thank you for the compliment 'Jonhelmkamp'! I agree with you...scotch on a budget can be very tricky (that's why there's bourbon too!). That's where sample and bottle trading can come in handy, if coordinated properly.

I still do not have a bottle of HP 18 to call my own (not at Can$150 in Ontario!), but I am able to fix my craving from a generous sample bottle kindly provided by 'maltster' when we met last summer. Thank you!

The HP 18 is a must try. Whether it be at a bar, in a sample trade, saving up to buy, or by having your friends/relatives (maybe they will split the cost of a bottle?) know that it's on your birthday/holiday wishlist, you MUST add this to your tasting experience.

Enjoy the journey!

@Andrea
s

This malt is surprisingly light in color for such a rich nose and mouth experience. Goes to show how little color means. I've gotten more different notes from this than any other malt so far. The initial nose was a bit bitter and acidic, with vinegar, raisin, grape, and wood. With a dash of water, ginger, red apples, chocolate, and a hint of peat came out. The palate was buttery smooth with chocolate, spice, orange peel, and again a hint of smoke. The finish was long and most of the flavors persisted for quite a while, leaving me feeling like I had just had a bite of chocolate. Given this, I finished the dram with a piece of dark chocolate and can enthusiastically recommend this pairing.

@HP12

For those familiar with the malty and well valued HP12, Highland Park 18 is very similar in flavor but with a higher degree of sophistication. This dram is a great example of what some additional years of "sleep" will produce from what is already a well defined brand.

Try a side-by-side comparative tasting between HP12 and HP18. It's a great way to experience the differences of what a few more years can do to an already good whisky.

Taste tested and reviewed hand warmed in a 12 oz. snifter, neat over the course of at least 30 mins. Weather: chill in the air, rainy.

Nose: Initially cool from the bottle, the dram really opens up with warming as red licorice turns to smooth anise, soft vanilla, seasoned oak fueling a smoldering story telling campfire.

Palate: Subtle honey vanilla crème brûlée inside a velvety oil slick accompanied by light oaky burn which slowly fades as the peat takes over but evenhandedly with mingled flavors.

Finish: The flavors follow thru into the long well balanced end, tightly complimenting are the malty, oaky, smokey statements.

Balance: This is a wonderfully enjoyable expression and I now understand why HP markets the 5cl bottle "gift" of HP18 with the 75cl bottle of HP12. They are offering a higher "education"

Those of us who like HP12 will surely "graduate" to the higher class that HP18 offers and delivers. This is one of those special bottles to have on hand and break out for special times.

@mattberg

No doubt about it the HP 18 is a great whisky...rich, flavorsome malty and sweet, but after trying the 16 year old I think I actually prefer the younger stable mate. It's slightly smoother with a gossamer texture, lighter and not so thick and treacley... curiously this whisky works better for me either with the 21 yr 47% or the 16 yr 40%.... anyway I will enjoy my bottle of 18 yr and probably revert to the 16 long term.

No definitely the 16 yo, I tried a 5cl bottle recently but am wondering why nobody has reviewed it here. The 18 yo is good no doubt but it's just a little too thick for me, the 16 yo is lighter on the tongue and not so malty. I had the same feelings about the Laphroaig 10 yr cask strength and the quarter cask.... perhaps younger whiskies suit my pallet, saying that, the HP 21 yo at 47% is probably the best whisky I have tasted, luckily you can still get it here in London in 5cl bottles.

Do you mean the 15 year old, instead of a 16 year old?...I wasn't aware of a 16 y.o. HP, and a 15 y.o. is available in Ontario (though strangely, no one has reviewed it here yet).

a

exceptionally smooth scotch. very well balanced. notes of toffee, caramel, peat, smoke, sherry. its like there is a party in your mouth and everyone is invited. highly recommended

It is DEFINITELY a party in the mouth! Everyone is invited, but no one becomes the 'obnoxious' guest!

@jwise

It has been my opinion since tasting this dram last year that it was only slightly better than Highland Park 12yr. However, I never gave it a good tasting, so I picked up another 5cl miniature to give it another go.

This is a 43% ABV bottling, with a nice copper hue to the whisky.

Nose: Sweet -n- salty are the first aromas that hit me. Smoke, and really nice peat notes. The subdued peat is complemented by the sea air on the nose. The sweet smoke is growing. Apples & pears: freshly sliced & sprinkled w/ cinnamon. Slight ginger?

Body: Lively, with a firm mouth feel.

Palate: Warming spice, w/ sweet Honeycrisp apples dipped in caramel. Smokiness. Salt & pepper.

Finish: Sweet smoke! This is a real winner. Smooth w/ spice, lingering on the long finish.

Intensely satisfying. This whisky adds a layer of smokiness to what is otherwise my favorite profile: sweet & spicy. The only way to get this better is to push the ABV north of 50%, maybe 56-58%? Heck, just give it to me at cask strength.

My new mission: find an independent bottling of sherried Highland Park bottled at cask strength.

Enjoying this dram with a cigar just brings out the best of its character.

The HP 12yr is good, but it is missing the sweet and the smoke of the 18yr. The predominant flavor in the HP 12yr is the sea spray salt, with the sherry and smoke playing 2nd and 3rd fiddle. The 18yr puts the sweet smoke up front, where it belongs!

@jwise, it might be worth your while to travel to Illinois to continue your quest for a CS version of HP...check out this Chicago area store's listings for HP products... binnys.com/spirits/search/…

@galg

Nose: A masterpiece of a nose. balanced, and complex. Rich dried fruit salad here, mixed with tons of spices (cinnamon,ginger,cloves), vanilla, even some red fruits can be found here. It’s an orgy to the senses. I could be sniffing that one for an hour. Oh, i love thee HP 18. I love thee so much! More sherried than the 12, 1998, and 1994. Richer also. A different league.

Palate: Sweet, spicy and rich. very balanced, peat, sweet, vanilla and wood are all there, living in harmony.

Finish: Long,starting on the fruit, and ending on the smoke.Lovely.

Bottom line :

A true great whisky. One of the best in it’s range. I love it, I dig it. It’s splendid. You don’t have it? Run and buy it NOW. really, no whisky bar should be missing this one.Superb!

If i were to rate whiskies, this one would in the 90’s.

@shimaaji

it has a litte cherry smell and good peat. This whisky takes me a slow world with a little cherry smell.

Wondering about the review also, I can't tell if you liked it or not. HP 18 has alway been a rock star whisky for me, sometimes going back to a whisky a couple of days later helps me appreciate its nuances.

I suppose the rating was a mistake then, 3 out of ten is extremely low and it seems you enjoyed the dram...

@Dellnola

What a treat this is.

Nose: Salty sweetness, fruit, a bit of smoke and oak. I once read someone write salted butter, and I agree. Very well balanced and a good sign and representation of the taste.

Palate: Sweetness up front (toffee, caramel, whichever you like best) which then transforms into a wonderfully spicy and smoky flavor. The transformation from sweet to dry is smoothly transitioned and perfectly timed. Absolutely perfect amount of peat!

Finish: The drying effect is almost uncanny and quite famous amongst admirers. I have few words. Wonderful.

This is a fantastic whisky. Of all my bottles of whisky, this is definitely my favorite. The character of this whisky is not at all one-note and it is extremely well balanced. The transformation of flavors sets this whisky apart from others. I'm on my third bottle of this stuff and I have realized that this whisky seems to peak when the bottle is 3/4 full and it stays relatively consistent from there. Upon opening a bottle, I've noted that it is a lot spicier and oaky. I will see if future bottles behave similarly.

Anyway, superb stuff! Half a star taken simply so I can leave room for any potential usurping by another!

Absolutely monty. Had another glass last night and I'm beginning to identify some maraschino cherries on the nose. I'll have to nose this a few more times before I warrant that identification. I try my best to weed out any contrived notes.

This really is an optimal whisky in terms of value against character/maturity.

Wonderful, like you say.

@Kutter

I am always impressed when I pour myself a dram of this single malt. Every sniff provides new aromas all mixed up in a perfect balance. A nice long finish that starts by drying your mouth before filling it with a wave of saliva from nowhere...

@jdcook

This was also a present for my birthday - this was one of two bottles my wife purchased for me (the other being a Glenlivet 18 year old). I'm only just getting over the flu, so it's been a frustrating few days not being able to open them.

The nose is big but not overwhelming. It starts with warm salted butter, which is complemented with honey and gentle floral notes. Hints of peat and oak come through in further sniffs. It leaves me feeling warm, with a residual smokiness. A lot going on here. This is really easy to keep sniffing.

The taste is warm and full - almost chewy. Creamy toffee sweet, complemented with salted peat, and notes of oak. A hint of chocolate. Fruity undertones. For such a big palate, this is a lot lighter than you would think and very drinkable. It has a little bit of everything, and all of it is good!

The finish is long and very sweet - loads of creamy toffee, but this is kept in check with a warm smokiness with just a hint of peat which keeps it from being overwhelming. Just a gentle tingle of spices (I noticed the tingle before I noticed the spices).

I'd heard really good things about this dram before buying, so I guess I'm ever so slightly disappointed. This is an excellent whisky, but it's not world-beatingly good (which is where I expected it to be). Don't get me wrong, I'll drink this any minute of any day (it's worth every bit of the 9 stars), but I was expecting it to give all of my out-and-out favourites a bit of a shake, and it doesn't quite reach that level. It has the perfect mix of sweet and savoury, but it's almost a bit too light for my taste. Mind you, we are in the dead of Winter here, and this might work better as a Summer dram - it is fairly light and easy to drink.

This would also be easier for people new to Highland Park than the 12 year old (which is a bit too smoky and peaty for some), but the price tag would be a significant deterrent.

It is an excellent dram, but it might sit on the shelf for 3-4 months until the temperature outside is a bit warmer - during the Winter months there are other drams I rate higher. I'll revisit this when I do. It might leap out at me a little bit more when my hands are warmer... :p

Part of the reason I'm ever so slightly disappointed is that it is a bit more expensive here in Australia - AU$160-AU$175 (£80-£90) it is around 3 times the cost of the HP 12 - and it is a better dram, but three times the cost? It's more than the Glenfarclas 15, Ardbeg Uigedail, Abelour A'bunadh, Talisker 18 and Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist. It has to compete with all of those, and it doesn't quite hit me like most of those.

But again, it might hit the spot better during Spring or Summer.

I love this whisky. For my taste, it is the best "all-rounder." I often tell friends that if I were stranded on a cold mountain somewhere, this is the whisky I'd want with me. The cost has skyrocketed in the US in recent years, however; almost double what one would pay only three years ago.

@galg

Nose: Oak,Honey,Heathe,earthy smoke.a nose to die for. it's indeed an amazing combination. Palate: Rich, Honey,Heather , low intensity peat, Oak. rounded, balanced. perfect. Finish:long round, lingering and very warming.

this is indeed a classic which should be on the shelf of every malt aficionado. it's in my top 10 surely.

find me a person who doesnt liket this nectar and likes scotch. i havent met someone like that ,yet :)

Ace.

A great friend of mine recommended the HP 18 as his favorite whisky, so I boogied down to the local Italian grocery store which also sells great liquor and picked up a bottle for $82.

I gotta say, this stuff was "liquid Magic!" Smoooooth! And, like I've read, a little of everything in it and perfectly balanced.

I find it very hard to drink just ONE dram! I just bought the Highland Park 12 a couple of days ago for $40 and compared them.

My conclusion is that the 12 is great for everyday: the 18 for very special occasions....but, I'm finding that each DAY can be very special!

If only this bottle cost less. I'd drink it every day. Some of the most amazing stuff on earth!

@yossiyitzak

I've read so many reviews on the HP18 (Highland Park, not Harry Potter, come on people!!) I figured, enough it enough - I have to try just to see what all the hoop-lah was about.

Last week I went to The Scottish Arms in St. Louis Missouri. If you've never been, go. Now. More than 150 drams (Scottish, Japanese, American, you name it) on their whisky menu - amazing! Well, while I was there I tried the HP18 and all I could say was..."eh..."

PLEASE READ ON

I realized that the whisky was so sub-stellar just because of the type of glass they used (should have brought my own Glencairn) and the fact that I had food getting in the way of the tasting. Note to self: only taste when you're either A) done with food or B) haven't had food yet (though on an empty stomach... that can be...fun!).

So, I bought a bottle the other day and decided to have some this morning. What a way to start the day!!

Nose: Not as smokey as I had anticipated. Very sweet smelling, almost juicy with an underlying smokiness to it. Second whiff: More of the same, this time a little more smoke but now the oak came out a bit and something almost tropical - overripe banana perhaps? I couldn't wait for the 3rd whiff...

Palate: Absolutely one of the most succulent drops I've ever had! The smoke was underlying but kept peaking it's head out and was balanced so well by the sweetness. Sherry notes but thankfully not overly so. The age come out a bit long vanilla oak notes and more sweet smoke. G-d damn, I'm in heaven!

Finish: Soft and silky, warming (which is much needed as it was 33deg F this morning!), smokey and long.

Those who know me now I am a devoted fan of the Glenmorangie lines but I have to say, with the exception of the D'or (which remains to be my dram of choice), this has knocked all of the other Glenmos out of the way! Maybe it's the weather, maybe it's because I had it in the morning, I don't know. I can tell you that I think I'm in love.

@yossiyitzak "this has knocked all of the other Glenmos out of the way" - that's something coming from you! Glenmo devotee :-)

But what a lovely review. While it's technical (with all the requisite terms mingled in there), it is also very personal and reads like a personal adventure - as it should. Great stuff!

@WhiskyNotes

Nose: a bit of everything really. Honey, a bit of smoke, some grassy notes, apple, spices, toffee, butter…This is a true all-round whisky, it contains a lot of flavours in the right amount. Mouth: punchy attack, quite fruity and sweet. Hints of peat and smoke. Very rich. Finish: a bit of mocha and marzipan and something vaguely metallic. Salty notes (liquorice).

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