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Highland Park. Deserving of it's many awards!

Highland Park. This distillery is owned by Edrington Group and slightly overshadowed by The Macallan. Although the two brands are completely different and for a different target market. Highland Park is up in the Orkney Islands in the North Sea. I had some trouble getting there by plane and ended up taking the ferry. This kind of weather/wind delay is common for the islands and of course will affect how Highland Park receives and sends goods back to the mainland. Another thing you will notice when you arrive to the islands is the lack of trees. It is so windy and the winters are so harsh up here that trees cannot survive. I found this slightly eerie, but regardless here is the story on my Highland Park visit!

This brand has been called the “Best Spirit in the World” by multiple whisky experts including Paul Pacult. They have also been featured in many big name magazines such as Forbes to be the “entry whisky” and best valued scotch single malt. They always seem to be popping up as the best value for quality. I must say the 12 year old does stand for that based off of my multiple drams. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing tour guide who let me try the full range. I think the value and quality of this brand goes well beyond the 12 year bottling. Orkney is definitely Viking territory and used to be owned by Norway until it was given to Scotland. The distillery was originally called “Hyde Park” and was legalized in 1834.

They still do maltings on site and this is happening for multiple reasons. They decided to keep the 5 malting floors for preservation of the craft, keeping the peat quality exactly as they wanted and also just in case anything were to happen with the ferry system. The rest of their malt comes from Simpson’s and they will produce all of their non-peated grains. Their one mash tun is stainless steel and the mash process will last about 6 ½ hours. Moving on to fermentation, they then let the 100kg yeast go to work for around 60-65 hours. There are twelve Siberian Larch and Oregon Pine washbacks and four total copper pot stills. According to Malt Madness, they are right around 2.5 million liters of new make spirit per year. They will typically use American and European (Spanish) oak and are one of the brands that tries to control their wood and takes it very seriously. They actually take ownership of the European Oak casks before they are used for sherry maturation and then they are returned to Highland Park after the sherry producer is done.

I know it will be a lot, but I wanted to list all of the drams I tried. I had such an amazing experience at my visit and I spent almost two hours doing my tastings! Read the one’s you wish to know more about. As you can probably imagine based upon the awards and availability, the Highland Park 12 is going to be your best bet for getting your hands on some Highland Park! Keep these few things in mind about the brand…

1. All of their maltings are 20% peated, so you will get some smoke in every dram.

2. Although there is peat in their malt, their new make spirit is very sweet and fruity.

3. Most of the core range will have been aged as 80% in Spanish oak and 20% in American oak. (Hence why they are so controlling over their Spanish Oak)

12 Year Old Highland Park

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Wood, berries, cedar chest, light/faint peat, toffee.

Palate: Soft and light oak, popcorn, and with water you get more of a peat flavor.

This has a mix of 80% European Oak aged and 20% American Bourbon aged.

Leif Erickson- Non-Age Statement. Aged in all American Oak.

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Honey, peanut brittle, lemon zest and sweet smoke

Palate: Honeysuckle, apples, pears, very sweet and easy dram. Slightly tart!

This is one of my favorite non-age statements. Look at all of those flavors! This is also not in the market anymore due to demand and only available at the distillery.

Dark Origins- Non-age Statement. 80% Sherry Aged and 20% Bourbon Aged. 46.8%ABV

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Raisins, berries and milk chocolate. Dove milk chocolate specifically, not Hershey’s!

Palate: Dark Chocolate, dried fruit cake and I got sherry on the palate.

I really liked this one for another NAS!

Highland Park ICE- 17 Years old limited edition.

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Sweet, coconut, pineapple, maybe some tangerine, slight buttery taste.

Palate: Sweet pear, coconut cream, buttery biscuit like a Lorna Doone Cookie. Sharp smoke bite at first but the finish is a sweeter smoke.

This was so popular that it is difficult to find now and is no longer available at the distillery shop. The next edition to be launched is the “FIRE”.

18 Year Old Highland Park

Holly’s Tasting Note..

Nose: Dried berries, cranberries, my mom’s strawberry jam, sweet honey.

Palate: Old raisins, chocolate covered raisins, dark smoked nuts (not sweet nuts, just dry), almonds and spicy finish on the tongue.

Overall this was a great experience! If you stay in Kirkwall, you can walk to the distillery and drink as much as you would like too!

Up next is Scapa..

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