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Highland Park 18 Alternative

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Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby ykv » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:24 am

I'm brand new to the whiskey world. Well, sort of. I've been drinking lots of whiskeys for several years - the Red and Black Johnny Walkers, J&B, Dewar's, and so on - but I've always mixed them with Coke. I could never stand to drink it straight, until about a week ago, when everything changed.

A friend of mine let me try a few pulls from his glass of his Glenlivet 12, and to my surprise, I could actually taste flavors other than "burning," and I really liked it. So here I find myself, suddenly exposed to a wide open world of wonderful whiskeys, and I'm having a ball exploring these new territories (new to me, anyway).

To the point: I recently went to a whiskey bar and tried a sampler flight, one of which was the Highland Park 18. I suppose I'm now ruined for life, because this amazingly complex and flavorful whiskey is far-and-away better than anything else I've tried (the other features on the flight were the Glenlivet 18 and the Glenfiddich 18), and it retails for around $100 USD.

My question is this: is there anything else on the market that even comes close, but at about 1/3 the price? I've seen that there is a Highland Park 12 that retails for closer to $40 USD, but are the flavors comparable? I think what I liked most about the HP-18 was the smokey, almost leathery taste - salty, even. What other whiskeys are in this same flavor category, if any?

I did enjoy the Glenlivet 18 and the Glenfiddich 18, but I also thought they were a lot more on the sweeter side than the HP-18 (the Glenlivet much more so than the Glenfiddich).

So if someone could point me in the direction of other whiskeys that are less on the sweet side and more on the side of the HP-18's smokey-leather-salty combination, and don't cost $100 a bottle, I would be grateful.

Ykv
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby whiskgeek » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:10 am

I've always thought Highland Park was in a category by itself, in that there aren't any others that taste quite like it. But if you're looking for something that's not sweet, and has a bit of peaty bite, check out the Islays. Caol Isla, Ardbeg, Lagavulin, Laphroiag, Bowmore. Also Talisker. Maybe Lagavulin would be the most similar?

However, you're still new - keep trying more! Your palate may develop further. :)
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby bredman » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:46 am

HP is lightly peated but after 18 years in the cask that peat becomes much subdued. So you're looking for a 10-12yo, very lightly peated malt and matches the HP18 for complexity. I have no idea, but if you find it, let me in on the secret.

:P

One of the Bowmores possibly.
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby ykv » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:18 pm

Thanks for the suggestions, as well as for the insights into what it is that's causing the flavors I enjoy. Being somewhat new to whiskey, I don't fully understand yet what are the compositional elements that make a particular whiskey taste smokey, sweet, etc. I'll get there, though.

I managed to try the HP-12 and I can definitely see the difference that is made by letting the peat age. The HP-12 has some of the same flavors of the HP-18, but it's also more harsh, has more bite to it, and those smokey/salty flavors aren't as easy to taste beneath the "burn."
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby The Third Dram » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:25 pm

I'd recommend you give some of the following a try (at your local watering hole first, if possible)...

Something from the Springbank/Longrow stable (the CVs are relatively reasonably priced)

Isle of Jura Prophecy (really like the balance between peat and sweet in this one)

Talisker 10 Year Old (or, if finances permit, the fabulous 18 Year Old)
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby Ganga » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:18 pm

The closest thing I've come across for Highland Park is Balvenie Doublewood 12 (closer to HP 12 than HP 18). However, this is sweeter and lacks the smokiness. I don't think this would quite meets your request.

As noted, Talisker is lightly peated too. However, you will find that it is spicey, especially the 10, in comparison to HP.

Pulteney 12 has the maritime characters you described but lacks the leathery/heathery/honey character of HP. Pulteney will display things more like tropical fruits (think mangos).

BenRiach provides peated whiskies but these are heavier and lack the maritime character.

Islay whiskies will typically be much more peaty (earthy, smoky) and many have a strong maritime character (think iodine/seaweed).

In the long run, I believe the HP 12 is your best choice. It may take you a bit of time to get used to it. The character of the whiskies will vary a bit if you find older bottlings (round shoulder bottle instead of the flask style bottle). The flask style is more honey, heather...sweeter than the older round shoulder bottling. That one is more along the lines of leathery and stewed oranges.

Good luck.
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby dramtastic » Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:27 am

Why does it have to be a match for HP 18 which IMO is good but not great? Why not broaden your horizens?
Why not suggestions of stuff that may not be an exact match or a match at all that are in your price range but possibly better than HP 18?
I recommend Hakushu 12 now that it's available in the US.

Nose: Very fresh and clean as a whistle. Seems to be untainted by any wood influence at all. Banana, vanilla custard, lychee, soap flakes, peat. Invigorating.
Palate: Pepper as if it’s straight from the shaker into the malt. Earthy peat, banana over oats, toffee, some orange and lemon.
Finish: Is medium length, dominated by peppery spice, and underpinned by clean malt and lingering earthy peat.
Last Word: Very well crafted. A good one for displaying the difference between the taste of peat and smoke.


http://www.thejapanesewhiskyreview.com/
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby ykv » Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:36 pm

dramtastic wrote:Why does it have to be a match for HP 18 which IMO is good but not great? Why not broaden your horizens?
Why not suggestions of stuff that may not be an exact match or a match at all that are in your price range but possibly better than HP 18?


I'm definitely interested in broadening my horizons. I was just using HP 18 as an indicator of the sorts of flavors I (apparently) find enjoyable in a whiskey. I guess I prefer salty and smokey to sweet, and if Hakushu meets that general criteria, I'm all for it. I'm sure there are better whiskeys than HP 18, that's the just the one I've enjoyed the most so far - but see my first post, I'm hardly a veteran with a broad range of experience.
:lol:

Thanks for all the great suggestions, the Bowmore 18 and the Ardbeg 10 look particularly interesting to me.
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby ykv » Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:12 am

I got a hold of a bottle of Ardbeg 10, and I think that's the winner. It tastes extremely similar to the HP 18 (to my underdeveloped palate, anyway), and it doesn't have the subtle harsh bite that the HP 12 has. I'm enjoying it thoroughly. The HP 12 is growing on me, but I still have to add a few drops of water to take the edge off, and I haven't had to do that with the Ardbeg, so again, thanks for the excellent suggestion.

Cheers!
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby bredman » Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:29 am

ykv wrote:I got a hold of a bottle of Ardbeg 10, and I think that's the winner. It tastes extremely similar to the HP 18 (to my underdeveloped palate, anyway),


I would never have made that call, but good news that you're enjoying the Ardbeg 10, one of the best standard age expressions there is. If you're into peat, then there are other Ardbegs that are excellent too. Also, whiskgeek's suggestions upthread^ are basically the line up of the main peat monsters -- plenty to explore.
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby pkt77242 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 2:57 am

Maybe to get close to a HP 18 you could mix Talisker 10 and Balvenie Doublewood? If you get the slight peat and maritime notes from the Talisker and the honey and sherry notes from the Balvenie? Someone should try it to see if it works.
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby tspnyc » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:23 pm

Actually, Highland Park 12 yo may be the best choice for you. It is closer to HP 18 than anything else in its price range.

It is certainly comparable, but the 18 will win every time. However, the 12 is still really great and when you are drinking it regularly, its own complexity will come forth and the hot edge of younger scotch will not be so noticeable. Nothing a little water won't help. And nothing like the burn you get in the blends you have been drinking.

The 18 has more of everything in terms of intensity, but about the only thing missing from the 12 is the noticeable tannins from the oak barrel, that just don't show up in 12 yo scotch.

But otherwise, HP 12 is one of a very few 12 year olds that I feel are better than many other label's older scotch.
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Re: Highland Park 18 Alternative

Postby Blue Note » Sat Jan 19, 2013 12:05 am

I think if you nosed and tasted HP 18 and Ardbeg 10 side by side you would find they are worlds apart. Peat and smoke are a very minimal and subtle component of HP 18 while many of the Islays mentioned in earlier posts feature peat and smoke much more prominently. Jura Prophecy is not even close and Taliskers are in a category of their own. Try Old Pulteney 17 for something more closely approximating HP18, although nothing else can really duplicate the unique flavour profile of HP 18.
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