Highland Park 18 Year (Scottish single malt island whisky: 18 Years Old: 43% ABV)

Visual: Deep enriched amber.

Viscosity: Extremely slow and quite thin streaks.

Nose: Cherries and fruitcake, shortbread and liquorice with tiny hints of smoke. Small trace of bubblegum like flavour. Water adds light lavender touches to mellow out the flavour.

Body: Roasted nuts, blackberries. Marzipan and toffee. Lemon tart/treacle tart. Not too sweet but effortlessly mixes many dessert tastes. Water adds a spicy touch in the form of gingerbread.

Finish: Slightest salt, roasted nuts. Slight harshess and coffee granules. Rising charcoal. Builds slowly over repeated tastes to a treacle touch. Port and the tiniest peat. Water adds an almost cheesecake base element which is distinctly unexpected.

Conclusion: A masterpiece: The expected island influence is instead a subtle rounding to an altogether more complex sweet sherried whisky with wonderful dessert flavours and a fantastic range.

Sweet and just slightly fiery this whisky competes with the 25-year edition on even terms, and is far superior to the already impressive 12-year version.

A brilliant whisky at any price point.

(Thanks to mum and dad for this wonderful Christmas present)