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Drink Review: Highland Park 18 Year Old

The 2017 relaunch of one of our all-time favourites, this has to be one of the most consistently excellent malt whiskies of the past 10 years. Showered with awards and praise from all quarters, it was named as ‘Best Spirit in the World’ by F Paul Pacult of the Spirit Journal. Unfailingly excellent, especially after a good meal.

Pacult wrote: ‘After 25 years’ experience, it fits my profile of what makes a perfect whisky, which is to say it’s totally in harmony, there are no rough edges and everything is melded together brilliantly.’

Highland Park 18 Review:

The 18 is probably the most quintessential single malt I’ve ever tasted; a fine balance between the two extremes for which single malts are famous.

The combination of these notes together with the peat and smoke throws enough interesting shades in your mouth to make this the most original and enjoyable experience you could ever have with a whisky.

It has quickly grown to become my favourite 18-year-old malt whisky ever made. The warm sweet aromatics are blended with a bright tang of peat smoke before the finish leaves lingering aromas of prunes, Sherry and pipe tobacco.

Highland Park 18 Review:

The whisky has none of the water-y, almost briny qualities that some of the newer single malts have. As with older whiskey, the more it’s diluted, the more it acquires a certain ‘quality’ to it, and without a grain or water dilution it’s a lot rampier than it should be for being 18 years old.

It’s a bit of a shock but it’s so good. I kept on sipping this Highland Park 18 straight whisky and slowly it began to become terribly addictive. In fact, when the time came for me to write this review I found myself hopelessly drunk on this malt.

The bottle talks of the ‘bounteous, honeyed and deep maltiness’ which, when you drink it, makes it sound like it’s completely full of citrus. But it doesn’t taste like orange juice, nor like white pepper. It’s quite unique.

It’s nothing like other single malts; orange juicey, Sherry-like, smoky or peaty. Some of these qualities are there but this malt smolders with other states of fire; chilli con carne, sultry steamy heat, burnt sugar and cardamom. The nose wafts into fruity honey with a dusky fudge note. Full of prunes, it’s very sweet but not cloying, smoke and Mr Moose that reminds you you’ve been eating with some fat pigs.

And absolutely there are smoky alcohol notes to the finish and some interesting thick mouthfeel. This is the reason I keep coming back to the Highland Park 18 whisky it’s my morning tea.

Highland Park 18 Review:

Despite its exotic nose, the feeling with it is quite the opposite. It’s a bit rough around the edges, a bit dusty. It doesn’t sit in your mouth as comfortingly as a coffee I’d say, and it has a dryness that hits the tongue from the first sip.

There’s a bit of hessian cloth in there, a bit of prickly paper. It’s finished with a sour, peaty tingle, which is surprising but I like it.

The sweetness and the dusky fudge notes, all add to create a most balanced texture but there’s this punchy flavour in the mouth that sits in the back of the throat that makes you feel like you’ve been riding a horse and drinking whisky.

It’s hard-bitten, not particularly soft, it takes some getting used to. A lot of malts just don’t sit in your mouth, they don’t want to. This Highland Park 18 sits in your throat like an oyster with a pearl and you really wish you were on a beach, sipping a gin and tonic.

If you’re someone who likes something different, an unusual experience with your malt whisky, this might not be your thing.

Highland Park 18 Review:

Surprisingly for a heavily peated whisky, it doesn’t feel too peaty. The flavour of the malt is unmistakeable. It doesn’t feel too hot or spicy. It’s a fruitier nose.

Some of you will love it and it’s very different. For those of you who enjoy something different, this is definitely something to try. And the peaty taste helps it down.

And that’s what’s great about this Highland Park 18. It’s an unusual experience, which comes from an unusual whisky. If you like something soft you’ll look elsewhere, but if you like something different, it’s a wonderful drink.

Highland Park 18 Review:

It’s the stuff you can’t find in whiskey. If you really want to taste Highland Park 18, well you should drink it with a solid meal and a lot of cigarettes.

It’s an acquired taste though and very different to what you expect. It’s lovely with oysters for a meal, which is what it reminds me of, but there’s been some pretty bland whisky served with oysters and it’s been awful.

Highland Park 18 Review:

I don’t think it’s awful though. It’s very Scottish, very peaty, but it’s very unique. It’s very much in the old style of the way whisky was made 20 years ago or so.

It’s not like Johnnie Walker Black. It’s not something you can get a feeling of in a bar. It’s a whisky for a short snifter, a long lunchtime, or a whisky you can really mess about with.

Wine Review: Adam Britton Shiraz 2011

Seismic and smoky black fruit, a lot of dark and fruity blackberries, a bit of sherry. Beautifully textured, it goes on and on. There’s a strong spicyness in there and the peat underdraws the fruit nicely. Not over-sweet, but a nice balance.

It’s a beautiful wine, but it’s got a lot of stock in it. Lots of spice and lots of black fruit and a bit of a minerally edge.

It’s the kind of wine you think of when you’re thinking about Shiraz. Beautifully developed for an eight year old. It’s an incredibly aromatic wine, full of spice and very black fruit. The palate is quite dry, a gorgeous sweet wine. It’s got a minerality to it.

It feels quite robust. When you look at Shiraz you think of it as a wine that’s a bit coy, if you know what I mean. This is quite robust and if you’re buying your Shiraz in Australia, this is absolutely a wine you can drink.

Comparing it to the 2002 Australian Shiraz that I had the other day, this one feels a lot more on the lean side, a bit more muscular.

It’s got a concentration of fruit. It feels powerful, it feels vibrant and there’s lots of tobacco in there.

There’s a lot of cacao, chocolate. The spice is a bit medicinal and herbal, but I would describe this Shiraz as beautiful. It’s a very powerful red wine.

There’s a very spicy character to it, with blackberries, cacao, a bit of spice and some gunpowder. It sits on the tongue, it sits on the palette, there’s a lot of minerality and crumbs of slate.

Comparing this wine to the 2002 Australian Vintage, which I had the other night, it’s very different. It’s got a bit of minerality to it. It’s a bit pricklier, it’s a bit more challenging. The 2002 is very powerful, very minerally and it’s got a lot of earth and graphite in there.

It was a sort of a culmination of a lot of influences. It’s certainly got the right time, being that it’s so old, 8+ years old. It’s got the right place, being that it’s been aged in new French oak barrels, and it was definitely the right person, Adam Britton, the person who was doing the rep dos.

Written by Mark Adams

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