Monday, June 12, 2017

Tasting: Highland Park 18 Year

Highland Park 18 Year
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Natural Color

Distillery: Highland Park
Age: 18 years
Region: Island (Orkney)
ABV: 43%
US Price: $120
Release: Ongoing
Cask: Ex-sherry casks

Points: 92/100

The Highland Park 18 year is a well known favorite among many.  It easily holds a spot near the top of the list of 18 year old scotch – and how could it not?  A complex dram with multiple transitions on the palate to satisfy any whisky expert, yet subtle, easy to drink and beautifully balanced for any beginner to enjoy all at a price point on the lower end of the spectrum for most 18 year old scotches.

The Highland Park 18 year has received countless accolades across the industry and is praised by even some of the most well known whisky experts.  In 2005, it was named Best Spirit in the World by F. Paul Pacult, spirit expert and publisher/editor of Spirit Journal, and then again in 2009.  Since then, the list has been divided into sub-categories where it then won best Scotch whisky.  Now, I’m not sure that is a title I would be able to give, given the fact there is so much I haven't had, but it is certainly near the top of my list.

I also need to give this scotch credit as it was a huge stepping stone for me when getting into scotch.  At the time I started diving into this world of single malt scotch I had just a couple bottles in my cabinet, but I was reading and learning as much as I could.  I wasn’t buying anything over $50 but that quickly changed after trying the Highland Park 18 year for the first time when visiting my father.  From then on I was hooked and it wasn't long until I picked up my own bottle.  Even after tasting countless other whiskies over the years, the balance and complexity of this dram still amazes me and will always be a favorite.

Nose: Very fragrant. Floral with toffee and bursts of honey. Sweet, stewed fruits.

Taste: Much more herbal on the palate.  Savory, cooked vegetables.  Barley sugar and honey initially that transitions to spices and smoke.  More herbal notes come later in the development.

Finish: The herbal notes continue into the long finish followed by sweet bread, oak and smoke.

Photo & Review By: Cody Diefenderfer