This being the final whisky to be written up for the Teuchters Landing tasting, it is typical that I would get some writer’s block. Maybe I don’t want our first and inaugural tasting to be over? I consider having a couple of whiskies to get the creative juices flowing, but this would probably be a bad idea. Anyway, what am I complaining about? Highland Park is a great whisky to write about.
I think the best place to start is to talk a bit about the distillery. Highland Park was formed in 1798 on the Island of Orkney. This is the most northerly distillery in Scotland and it really is famous worldwide. Highland Park still does about 20% of it’s own maltings. American Oak and Spanish Oak maturation in a cool store create some of the flavours (the website states that the cool maturation is important). The little differences in production make the uniqueness that each whisky has to offer. In Highland Park, the own malting and the use of Orcadian peat seem to make the biggest impact.
When talking about Macallan 18, we suggested that if you were to pour it over Jessica Alba, it would be perfection itself. Lucas controversially decided against such action. Not to put Highland Park down, I’d suggest that this is not what I would do with this whisky either. It is a great all rounder but has a bit more of a smoke, bitterness and bite to it. You will have to wait for the next time, Ms Alba.
Right, on to the tasting itself
Nose: Oaky from its 18 years in barrels. Slight smokiness but not to harsh. Hints of pears and a slight creaminess.
Palate: A light smokiness, slight taste of the sea. Very enjoyable and easy drinking Island malt. Its not got the power of some of the Islay Malts but when you want a whisky that’s there for you after a hard day, I would say this is your man.
Finish: Bitter, oaky and a little dry.
Highland Park 18 is always going to be compared to Macallan 18. Both owned by the Edrington Group, both premium products for their distilleries and both huge worldwide brands. Highland Park 18 will cost you about £50 and Macallan 18 will set you back about £70. On the head to head? I think the Macallan knocks Highland Park out. I’d pay the extra £20 because I think that while Highland Park 18 is an excellent all rounder, the Macallan just blew me away. I wouldn’t even debate paying £70 pounds for it (more money than sense perhaps).
You are right, Chris, Highland Park does make a great comparison for Macallan 18. They are a bit different in style but similar in intensity and vigour. They both make perfect late-night drams, they are beautifully heavy and there is certain elegance and splendour about them. Up until our tasting in Teuchters, when I first tried the Macallan, Highland Park 18 was my favourite in the category. In fact, it was the first malt whisky I ever bought… there is certain emotional baggage here.
After the Macallan explosion I was seriously concerned that the HP wasn’t going to make a stand at all. How can one compete against such a giant? Was one of my favourites going to get destroyed as Chris suggested? Well, it did not. I appreciate your opinion, mate, but you are wrong. Macallan did not knock HP out. It won fair and square and then they shook hands and were pals again. Both unscratched.
Nose: Relief, just as nice as I remember it! Toffee and walnut, burning apple tree leaves and wet cereal. Peaty overtones.
Palate: Spicy and fiery despite the soft entry, loads of wood but also light milk chocolate and prunes.
Finish: Shows signs of “overmaturation” here but still nice, long and winy.
Where can you buy Highland Park 18 yo: