Noses - 18yo: JM descrbed the 18yo's nose so perfectly with the sentence: " An empty honey jar that once held peaty embers". Honey-heather garden bonfires and some greek cuisine - something leafy anyway. Just perfect.
- 25yo: Initially more closed than the 25yo. With a little hand-warming - strong honey, clean sherry, chocolate and more oakey spicyness than the 18yo.
Palates - 18yo: The 18yo is bitter sweet perfection to me - tasty honeyed sweetness balanced by oak and smoke. Complex and delicious, with good transference of nose to palate.
- 25yo Flawless sherry, honey and chocolate, candied fruits. Very sweet oily and mouth coating. Slick and delicious.
Finishes - both long and satisfying, with the 25yo being oakier.
Comments / Victor: I've long wanted to try the 25yo and I really wanted it to be even better than the 18yo but for me it just falls short. It is slick and delicious but ultimately the sherry reduces the complexity for me.
Overall I would say the 25yo matches the 18yo for palate only.
Ratings - 18yo 96
- 25yo 92
Discalimer - I'm into my third bottle of the 18yo, whereas I've only had 5cl of the 25yo.
However, the HP25 was relatively youthful in that - whilst some oak was detectable - it was certainly in the background, allowing the more famed HP elements to hold the stage.
It's been a number of years since I've had the 25 and I don't remember it being dramatically better than the 18, there's a little bit of everything in the 18, all in very good balance.
It's very impressive and it doesn't hurt that I received two bottle for free!
I noticed that about the 25yo too. It is a fresh whisky and in no way over oaked. It's delicious and I would not hesitate to get a full bottle if it was cheaper....
2 free bottles of HP 18yo that's a bit of a treat I actually got my first bottle as a Valentine's Day present from my girlfriend 18 months ago, so I guess it was free too.
That was pretty much my plan too - not for Christmas, but as some special occasion whisky. The search continiues. Don't know about different bottlings - all the bottles of 18yo I've had have looked like the 12yo but say 18 instead.
Perhaps we should turn our attention to how each stacks up (if possible) against comparable whiskies in similar price brackets.
My own thought is that the 18 would triumph against all comers both as a complete whisky and value for money. (Maybe its a one off in the whisk(e)y world - Whisky of the year, after all.) I think the 25 may fair well also and would probably be in the top ten.
But here's a thought - What would the results be if the two were swapped? Would the 25 win the "18" class and the 18 finish ahead in the "25" class?
Bottom line though is that they are both very good whiskys and as long as each is savoured and enjoyed in its own right, everything else is kind of irrelevant. That they can spark debate against each other, is to my mind, a bonus requiring both to be quaffed at regular intervals
Highland Park 18 43%
Nose: Nutty, sweet sherry, Slightly liquer-ish with a sultana sweetness. Fruity with date's, raisins, figgs and orange zest, then a soft undertone containing honey and in the back a whiff of peatsmoke. With time the nose changes and becomes alot sweeter.
Taste: Sweet sherry with lots of dried fruit, apricots,mild raisins and figgs. All in balance with a dark smoky underground. Very oily body, a velvety mouthfeel containing pronounced honey.
Finish: Smoky with some peat arrival, very long, sherry and lots of sweet fruit. Now there's a more obvious presence with nutts, hazelnut and a hint of almonds and there's a subtle hint of marsepan to it too. The honey from the taste gradually fades away.
Opinion: Very well balanced, Full flavored and packed with sherry, fruit, nuts, honey and smoke. Very complex because all the flavors are so well integrated and balanced with eachother. Although there's just a bit more sherry then anything else.
Highland Park 25 50,7%
Nose: Initially floral, marsepan and a hint of françipagne. There's a subtle acetic tone to it too, wich fortunatly dissapears after awhile. Almonds, sweet, malty with brown bread, somewhat restrained, even after some time in the glass. Subtle hint of oak, milkchocolate and nutts.
Taste: Complex, somewhat spicy, slightly spirity, some honey and dried fruits. Sweet fruity sherry, apricots,tangerines and raisins. Malty undertone with toffee.
Finish: Mild whiff of honey and sherry, sweet toffee. Lots of changes here. Very long and complex, subtle hint of almonds and marsepan. Apricots and this time grapes, hint of peat.
Opinion: Well balanced but not the same as the 18y old. Complex, sweet and fruity but more presence of spices. Slightly more spirity then the 18 but also more restrained.
So, the 18 is IMHO actually better then the 25! The last times I did a HTH with these two they were always the last of the tasting session, wich must be why I rated then 25 better due to the higher alcohol.
Nevertheless, I must apologize to Crieftan, I was wrong and honestly I feel a little ashamed now that I suggested to buy the 25. For what its worth, I really thought the 25 was better before these new HTH's and personally I would still prefer a dram of it over the 18 but thats pure personal, its the sultana sweetness of the 18 that doesnt appeal to me very much, objectively, the 18 is better,I am sorry about that, perhaps I should send your Mss a box of chocolate...
Edit: We also tested the oxidation, We put the fresh HP 18 against a HP that was opened for almost 2 years! The fresh one nosed and tasted exactly that: more fresh. Although in the nose after 15 minutes there were almost no changes left, the taste was significantly different, everything was still there, but was flattened alot. Still, after 2 years I believe it was quite impressive. The sherry was a mere echo of its fresh counterpart and there was a distinct oakyness in the old one with a bitter tone to it. Goes to show oxidation does has an effect, be it less then I expected.
Tom wrote: Nevertheless, I must apologize to Crieftan, I was wrong and honestly I feel a little ashamed now that I suggested to buy the 25.
Don't sweat it - my choice. In any event the 25 is still a bleeding good dram and I'll enjoy it greatly irrespective of whether or not I feel the 18 is ultimately a better nip over the longer term.
As I alluded to in previous postings, perhaps the 18 is the perfect combination from HP and is as good as HP will ever be. Well done HP. Some distillers would no doubt love to have such a whisky in their repertoire. Looking forward to a HP masterclass at Whisky Live, though
Changing tack a little, in a HTH I tended to favour Talisker 10 over 18. In isolation both were great but against each other......I'll need to try it again.....and again............and again..........!!
I find the Talisker 10 to be a good and desent whisky but inferior compared to its Islay competition. Whatever it has you'll find more of in any of the 10 year olds from Kildalton.
Pepperiness just isn't enough!
I'd like to make a broader point about rating one whisky "better" than another. It's certainly true that one may find more of what one is looking for in a certain distillery's bottlings in a younger and cheaper expression, and thus feel no need to drink the older and more expensive one. But just because one finds HP 18, for example, better than the 25, and certainly therefore a better value, doesn't necessarily mean that he wouldn't want the 25 sometimes anyway. Part of my feeling on this is prompted by Tom's rating the 18 two points higher than the 25--I simply cannot quantify quality like that. It's like reducing the Sistine Chapel to 0's and 1's--the computer can read it, but it tells me nothing about what it's like to stand there and look at it. (Yeah, I saw Good Will Hunting a couple weeks ago.) Sure, I think some whiskies are better than others, but that doesn't mean that the "lesser" ones aren't worth experiencing. In fairness to Tom, that isn't what he is saying at all. And of course, there is the Frodo Factor--i.e. value for money. And I can't be quite so cut-and-dried about that, either. In my mind, there are a lot of reasons why a whisky might be expensive, and judging whether it's worth it or not isn't always a simple matter of putting a dollar figure on its perceived quality. Deciding whether MacAskill 42 is worth £99 is a complicated and personal matter.
And anyway, maybe HP 18 is just extraordinarily cheap for what it is!
And anyway, maybe HP 18 is just extraordinarily cheap for what it is!
I think it is - even with our price level!
MrTattieHeid wrote:(snip) But just because one finds HP 18, for example, better than the 25, and certainly therefore a better value, doesn't necessarily mean that he wouldn't want the 25 sometimes anyway. (snip)
That's a really good point Mr. T. Ardbeg 10yo is just so good (IMO) that I truly believe if it was a rare independent bottling I would rate it as my favourite Scotch. But I've drunk more than my share of it and my eye is bound to wander. Hence other Ardbegs, maybe not as beautiful, vie for my attention. I'm looking for something very similar but different.
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