Brand: Highland Park
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 18 Years
ABV: 43 %
Colour: Golden/Light Amber
Nose: It's important to give the HP 18 sufficient time in the glass. At first I find Elegant Earthy Peat, light Leather, Straw, Heather, Dried Herbs, Walnuts, Dried Fruit, Buttered Toast, Oak, Espresso, Treacle, Toffee, light Vanilla, Malt, Salt and some light Fruit Notes (Papaya, Apple, Peach, Pineapple). The Alcohol is not yet fully integrated. Finally some light Spices, mainly Cinnamon. It's comfortable rather than spectacular. Well balanced but a bit on the Thin Side. It's more mature than the 12 years but quite comparable.
Palate: The delivery is on the Thin Side. This Single Malt deserves to be bottled at around 48%. What a difference that would make. Still, it's not bad of course. I find Sweet Barley, Toffee, Heather, Honey, Walnuts, Dried Fruit, Oak, light Licorice, Citrus, Dusty Peat, Straw, light Smoke, Dried Herbs, Salt, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Pepper, Espresso, Vinegar, Marzipan, Marshmallow and some Red Fruit.
Finish: Middle Long and Herbal with light Smoke, light Licorice, Buttered Toast, Barley Sugar, Toffee, Citrus, Pepper, Nutmeg, Salt and a hint of Milk Chocolate.
I added a bit of Water and that enhances the Fruit on the Nose somewhat. It becomes dangerously drinkable with Water. Safer to sip it neat! But you can experiment with a few drops!
Nose: 22 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 22 - Overall: 22
General Remarks: Highland Park, founded in 1798, is the most northerly distillery in Scotland and is located on the Orkney Isles off the North-East coast of Scotland. The distillery uses local Orcadian Peat, that mostly consists of Heather and other Plants. Only a limited amount of the Malt is dried with Peat though. Highland Park matures its spirits mainly in Ex-Sherry casks from both Spanish and, curiously, American Oak. Highland Park is one the very few remaining distilleries that malts (at least part of) the Barley on their own malting floor. The HP 18 years was introduced in 1997. The HP 18 will cost you on average 125 US Dollars but prices may vary a lot from place to place.
Drinking Experience Neat: Good
Conclusion: The HP 18 has won many prices and lots of people love this stuff. And I can see why. It's not too strong on the Peat nor on the Fruit, nor on the Spices, nor on the Wood. You will get a bit of everything but all in a balanced and measured way. A typical Fire-Place sipping Single Malt. It has one great flaw though. The ABV is simply too low for such a good spirit. With an ABV of around 48% the Nose would show its Aromas much quicker and clearer. And on the Palate the HP 18 would arrive in the strong way this spirit deserves. The way it is, the HP 18 is a good Single Malt but probably a tad too expensive. The 12 Years has a better Price/Quality Ratio despite its youth and shortcomings.