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Highland Park 18 vs Johnnie Walker Blue Label: Discover the Better!

Discover the differences between Highland Park 18 vs Johnnie Walker Blue Label in this head to head comparison and decide which whisky is better for You!

Highland Park 18

  • Nose: Smoke, oak
  • Palate: Citrus, cinnamon, chocolate, honey, smoke
  • Finish: Long, oak spice, smoke
  • Alcohol content: 86 proof (43% ABV)
  • How to drink: Add water
  • Similar to: Oban 18, Talisker 18

Highland Park 18 was named as ‘Best Spirit in the World’ by F Paul Pacult of the Spirit Journal. Something I don’t agree with but you get the idea that we are talking about a damn good Scotch.


The nose is rich in smoke and oak, with a touch of iodine.

Mouthfeel is smooth, with mild smokiness with hints of chocolate, citrus and a meaty note that brings a bacon-like flavor.

This whisky is quite flavorful and not harsh, has many of the tasting notes of the 12 YO but just better in every way.

The finish is long, a bit spicy and oaky with a faint smoky note on the tail and a satisfying warming bite coming late to the party.

This Scotch drinks nicely neat but if you find it too peppery add a dash of water and make sweet honey appear; adding ice does not get the trick done!

Is it good?

Overall, the Highland Park 18 is a quite good moderately smoky malt but perhaps a bit too dry, oaky and thin to be outstanding.

An improvement over the Highland Park 12 as it has many tasting notes in common but better in every way.

Is it the best spirit in the world as Mr. Pacult claims? I think he went too crazy about it as it’s good but not enough to be the best in the world.

And I have the utter most respect for him as I’m aware than Pacult along Jim Murray are the biggest authorities in this business but I don’t share his love for the HP 18.

Highland Park 18 facts:

  • Aged for 18 years in using both European and American oak that are previously sent off to Spain to be seasoned with Oloroso Sherry. Oloroso is a dry and aromatic style of sweet and delicious sherry wine.
  • Winner of the 2018 and 2019 Chairman’s Trophy for Best Island Single Malt.
  • The Highland Park Distillery was founded in 1798 by Magnus Eunson, who was a church officer in the mornings and moonlighted as a illicit distiller and smuggler by night.

Johnnie Walker Blue Label

  • Nose: Oak, dried fruits, berries, citrus
  • Palate: Caramel, smoke, chocolate, malt
  • Finish: Medium, light smoke, dried fruit
  • Alcohol content: 80 proof (40% ABV)
  • How to drink: Neat
  • Similar to: Macallan 15, Balvenie 21


The nose offers oak at first, followed by a light smoky note. There are hints of berries and citrus coming behind.

On the palate, the Blue Label feels creamy, rich in caramel up-front, followed by a malty flavor and a hint of chocolate. There is a bit of smoke making it incredibly rewarding.

The finish has a solid length, light in oak and smoke with a rich dried fruit note.

Is it good?

I would summarize the Blue Label by saying “smooth, smoky and delicious”.

This whisky is incredibly smooth yet quite flavorful with more peat than I was expecting but still just a hint and nothing off-putting for those who are not into peaty whisky.

The Blue Label is remarkably gentle on the palate, very smooth, slightly sweet with smoky cigar-like aftertaste. It does not burn as it goes down easy and nicely.

The Johnnie Walker Blue Label could definitely use more proof (ABV) and become a much better offering; a mere 80 proof (40% ABV) is too low for a whisky at this price but still makes the best Johnnie Walker whisky.

Blue Label facts:

  • Johnnie Walker is a blend of grain whiskies and a blend of malt whiskies from different distilleries; this is not a single malt Scotch.
  • Blue Label has no age statement. Johnnie Walker does not disclose the minimum aging of the whiskies that comprise the blend.
  • According to the information provided by Johnnie Walker only 1 in 10,000 casks is selected to be part of the blend. It makes me think that Johnnie Walker must have a zillion casks in storage as the Blue Label is everywhere to be found as every duty free store in the world carries a generous stock.
  • Each bottle of Blue Label is offered in a silk-lined box with a certificate of authenticity and a serial number. It makes a good token!

Differences between Highland Park 18 and the Blue Label

There are three main difference between these two whiskies for you to consider:

  • Highland Park was aged for 18 long years whilst the Blue Label has no age statement. Johnnie Walker does not disclose the aging period of the whiskies that conform this bottle.
  • Highland Park 18 is a single malt Scotch, that is, a whisky made exclusively made from malted barley and at a single distillery. Johnnie Blue is a blend made various single malt and grain whiskies crafted in several distilleries across Scotland.

Highland Park 18 vs Johnnie Walker Blue Label: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

Highland Park 18$160
Johnnie Walker Blue Label$170

Highland Park 18 vs Johnnie Walker Blue Label: Which is better?

The Blue Label is a safer and delicious bet

  • The Blue Label is a blend of grains and malts, with no age statement using caramel-coloring to look more appealing.
  • Despite these “inconveniences” it makes a heck of a dram as it is delicious, rich in chocolate notes and a faint smoky note that sits quite well.
  • The Johnnie Walker Blue Label is a scotch that is well worth enjoying at least once in a lifetime.

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