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Highland Park 18 vs Lagavulin 16: Head to Head!

Discover the differences between Highland Park 18 vs Lagavulin 16 in this in-depth comparison and decide which Single Malt is better for You!

Highland Park 18

highland-park-18
NoseSmoke, oak
PalateCitrus, cinnamon, chocolate, honey, smoke
FinishLong, oak spice, smoke
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toMacallan 18, Talisker 18

Highland Park 18 was named as ‘Best Spirit in the World’ by F Paul Pacult of the Spirit Journal. That’s a big bold statement but even though I have several in my personal list ahead of this it’s genuinely a good Single Malt.

Smoke hits with smoke at first, giving way to a pleasant oak note.

On the palate, the Highland Park feels somewhat thin lacking in body. Flavor has a high citrus note along cinnamon and chocolate, followed by honey and subtle smoke.

The finish is long and pleasantly warm, a bit dry, with some oak spice to it but nothing too severe, a gentle touch of smoke and a moderate bite to remind you that you are drinking whisky.

If you have tried the Highland Park 12 you are going to find many of those tasting notes in the 18 YO just that better in every way

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

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Highland Park 18:

  • 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.

  • Highland Park is crafted at Scotland’s northernmost distillery in the Orkney Islands.

  • 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.

Lagavulin 16

lagavulin-16
NoseSmoke, vanilla, iodine
PalateSmoke, Tobacco, seaweed, fresh fruit
FinishSmoke, fig, vanilla
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkAdd water
Similar toPort Charlotte 10, Oban 14

Lagavulin 16 has a strong aroma of smoke and sea salt along sweet notes of vanilla and caramel.

Flavor is rich, with a delicious blast of smoke, caramel, along fruity sweetness. The peatiness is incredibly well balanced against some caramel sweetness, rich, smooth and delicious.

This whisky is creamy and smooth and pleasantly warm.

The finish is long, sweet and pleasantly warm, with more smoke to it.

Lagavulin 16 is a great malt with a strong but still enjoyable peaty profile with delicious sweetness.

The long aging period diminished the smoky notes a bit whilst adding the sweet vanilla from the bourbon barrels in which it was aged. This is one of the best peaty single malts in the market.

If you find yourself overwhelmed in smoke add a few drops of water, that will open-up the Lagavulin making it sweeter, while tuning-down the peat and will become easier to sip.

This is a Scotch to enjoy neat with a few drops of water to open it up making it more approachable.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Lagavulin 16:

  • Named the “Best Single Malt Whisky” at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2013.

  • 6 Double Gold Medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

  • Lagavulin distillery was founded in 1816 by John Johnston and Archibald Campbell, is located in the village of Lagavulin on the south of the island of Islay, Scotland.

Highland Park 18 vs Lagavulin 16: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskyPrice
Highland Park 18$175
Lagavulin 16$100

Highland Park 18 vs Lagavulin 16: Which is better?

Highland Park 18 is a safer bet

WhiskeyHighland Park 18Lagavulin 16
Nose
Body
Palate
Finish
Value

It comes down to your tolerance for smoke:

  • If you want smoke in moderation, along some moderately sweet sherry the Highland Park 18 is for you.
  • If you are capable of dealing with a blast of peat, to later be rewarded with delicious sweetness the Lagavulin 16 is the better choice.

Personally, I would take the Lagavulin 16 over the Highland Park 18 and add a splash of water tuning it down a bit making it more approachable.

But I have a penchant for smoky notes and I’m well aware that many lads dislike this particular hint.

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