Review: Highland Park 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

18 Years; Sherrry Casks
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Highland Park (Kirkwall, Scotland)

This whisky has won many accolades due to its high quality, but one problem with this is batch quality – both from what I’ve read and experienced. I have only sampled a number of bottles, and generally it is high quality. However, a few bottles didn’t impress me much at all (I even ended up giving one bottle away!). So, this stuff can be really good, but if you can get a sample of the bottle you are buying from first, that’s best.

Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

Nose: Apple, very light smokiness, honey, daisies, toffee, walnut, vanilla, raisins, cacao, light banana, buttercream, with a bit of a spicy edge to it. Rich, and the vanilla character in particular appears to be deep and rich. And so deep! It feels as though you can just inhale deeper and deeper with this stuff. And the balance is just brilliant. Develops too, with more vanilla and peaches coming forward.

Taste: Oh my! A light, honeyed entrance with a touch of peppery smoke (like chipotle peppers), some building spice, fruitiness (including maraschino cherry), and smoke – with the perfect vanilla sweetness in the background. The richness is retained in full, and the finish ends in a brilliant flourish of heather, smoke, vanilla, oak, and pepper. There are even touches of grain, like those diet fiber crisps.

Finish: The smoke builds up to a honey, malt, apple, finish that lingers strongly and slowly dries out. There is also a light touch of cinnamon and banana. The dry smoke and the sweet vanilla endure and just are simply delicious for a long time.

This whisky is absolutely brilliant – for the balance, feel, flavour, and finish. I found that as I continued to sip it I kept being surprised at how it developed, and the number of new flavours that I noticed. An absolutely brilliant creation.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Average. Or it was, when I bought it (~200$). The price is pushing up at a fairly fast rate, so further increases will drop the value.