Thursday, June 25, 2015

Old Standbys: Highland Park 18

Sometimes it's good to go back to basics.  Highland Park 18 year old has long been a staple of single malt lovers everywhere.  It was one of the whiskeys I tried early on that really turned me on to Scotch, but like many of those old favorites, I haven't tried it in quite a while, passing it up instead for flashy new releases.  The price of this one has gone up over the years making it less of a staple and more of a splurge.  Nonetheless, I thought it was time to try a current edition of the old standby.

Highland Park 18 yo, 43% abv ($130)

The nose brings me back to all those nights with Highland Park.  It's got well balanced malt and peat with some fruity notes in the background.  The palate is grassy with just a touch of peat and maybe a bit of sulfur.  The finish is salty with some very light sherry on the nose.

Is this everything it once was?  It's hard to say as I didn't have the opportunity to do a side by side with an earlier batch.  It doesn't have quite as much complexity of mouthfeel as I remember, but even if it's not everything it once was (and hardly anything is), it's still a good, balanced malt.  It has elements of peat, sherry and bourbon cask malt with none being overly dominant.  I'm glad to see it's still such a reliable, drinkable malt, and I'd still recommend it without hesitation.


Unknown said...

It's hard for me to pull the trigger on this no2 that the price is higher what a pretty damn good CS/NCF Signatory. These mainline 18 year olds have simply blown the "reasonable" threshold in the past couple of years, and for me (as well as many others, I suspect) the value is just not there.

Glad you enjoyed this, but it's a shame that this bottle is where it is now.

Justin Victor said...

Great post for me to ask you a question Sku. Do you feel like single malt scotch, in general terms, has seen an quality decline over the past several years? Not a massive decline mind you, but a slight one. It seems to me like me that several of the malts I used to enjoy are not as good as I remember. Couple this with soaring prices and it is a recipe for disappointment.

What say you good sir?

sku said...

Great question Justin. I would say nearly all whiskey has seen a quality decline. Tasting head to head whiskeys of ten years ago to whiskeys today makes it clear: Laphroaig 10, Lagavulin 16, Wild Turkey 101. All of these were richer, more complex whiskies a decade ago. Much of this reflects the fact that whiskey glut has been replaced with whiskey scarcity. The old casks that may have been emptied into some of those younger age statements have long been depleted. So, yes, sadly, we are buying worse whiskey for more money.

Justin Victor said...

Thanks for your input.

Now that Japan seems to be removing all the age statements on their bottles, I guess we can expect the same decline from them. Supply and demand is a heartless bitch with a product that takes so long to make.