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Highland Park 18 vs Oban 18: Which Wins?

Discover the differences between Highland Park 18 vs Oban 18 in this head to head 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, Blue Label

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 solid 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.

Oban 18

oban-18
NoseSmoke, citrus, honey
PalateOak spice, apple, salted caramel, smoke
FinishLong, caramel, oak spice
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkNeat
Similar toOban 14, Macallan 18

The nose has a light smoke scent at first, followed by an orange note and a touch of honey.

On the palate, Oban 18 shows a good texture as it feels creamy. Flavor hits with oak spice at first followed by hints of apple and salted caramel come next with a very light hint of smoke.

The finish is long and pleasantly warm, with more oak spice to it and a touch of caramel.

Adding water makes it better as it tunes the oak spice which does not overwhelm other flavors but it’s a bit too high for my taste.

Not a bad whisky but I still find the Oban 14 to be a better dram as it’s slightly higher on the smoke with much less oak spice making a more approachable whisky.

There are a few facts worth knowing about Oban 18:

  • Aged in traditional bourbon barrels.
  • The distillery was built in 1794 by the brothers John and Hugh Stevenson located in Scottish west coast port of Oban.
  • Oban is neither a Highland Whisky nor an Islay Whisky but combines features of both.
  • Oban is a tiny little distillery producing around 650,000 liters of whisky annually; most of its production goes into some of Johnnie Walker’s finest blends.

Highland Park 18 vs Oban 18: Price comparison

Price are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskyPrice
Highland Park 18$175
Oban 18$170

Highland Park 18 vs Oban 18: Which is better?

The Highland Park is a better balanced whisky

WhiskeyHighland Park 18Oban 18
Nose
Body
Palate
Finish
Value
  • These whiskies share many tasting notes but the Oban 18 hits harder with the oak spice presence making the Highland Park 18 the better of the two.
  • The Highland Park 18 is also a bit sweeter as it was aged in casks seasoned with Oloroso Sherry making it easier to sip.
  • The Highland Park 18 is a bit more smoky but just a bit, so do not expect to get overwhelmed by this note that many lads find hard to swallow.

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