Highland Park was founded back in 1798 by David Robertson, the distillery today sits on a site previously used by local business man and smuggler Magnus Eunson to distil illicit whisky.. The distillery is always very keen to link itself with Nordic history and the continuous use of Norse mythology to name its whisky releases.
Looking way back in the early parts of the 9th Century when the vikings first invaded the island of Orkney, there was a long history of Viking Earls ruling the island. Magnus Erlendsson was to become one of the more celebrated rulers until his death which was surrounded by betrayal and jealousy from his cousin Haakon, the story goes on to tell of miraculous healings from the areas of his burial and murder, here the legend of Magnus who later became Saint Magnus was born.
The distillery itself has the capacity to produce 2.5 million litres of alcohol which in today’s market is not a vast amount but when you consider the amount of releases you start to assume they would be producing a lot more..
In order to produce this amount of whisky the distillery uses a semi – Lauter mash tun, 12 Oregon pine wash backs, one 12 ton mash tun and 2 pairs of stills..
The distillery profile lends itself to a smokey, sherried style that is derived from a peated spirit of around 30 -40 ppm from its own floor maltings and unpeated malt that has been bought in. The distillery has dried its own barley for over 200 years with their peat that is cut from the Hobbister Moor, this peat bed is believed to be over 4000 years in the making, the peat beds from where the peat is cut are located just seven miles from the distillery. The peat is completely woodless and is mostly made up from the decaying heathers and mosses, this peat burns slowly and produces a floral aroma within the kilns, this inturn delivers the intensely balanced smoky sweetness found within Highland Park.
The Dark 17 year old
This was originally released back in 2017 and was part of a 2 bottle series matching the seasons, this expression is matched to the Autumn and Winter seasons and “The Light” is matched to Spring and Summer..
Distillery.. Highland Park
Age.. 17 years
Casks.. Sherry Butts
Outturn.. Limited to 28,000
Nose.. Dried fruits battle cinnamon and ginger for dominance all the while a dark chocolate note creeps up almost unnoticed, while Vanilla, toffee apples, pine cones, cinder toffee and some Manuka honey bring in the sweetness its again balanced out with some citrus notes.
Palate.. The palate leans a little more towards the spicy side with Cinnamon and a kick of fresh ginger dispersing into chocolate the dried fruits where dates, sultanas and figs with a little prune juice that gives some sweetness to balance out a citrus and oak bitterness.
Finish.. Lingering oak tannings
Thoughts.. O Highland Park where do I begin ?
Firstly let me say this whisky is rather nice, there are some real bold flavours and with every sip you want to have a little more, the aromas are devine and seductive if sherried whisky is your thing but bloody hell how many releases can one distillery have within such a relatively short period ?
Ok I am not going down the rant avenue as others do it so much better than I do so ill leave it to them.. What I will concentrate on is the quality of spirit which after all is the most important factor in all of this ! Highland Park has always produced good quality whisky and although some argue that quality as dipped a little recently I still believe there is enough quality in there to warrant being positive about this whisky..
That said it is hard not to mention the price tag, £190 for a 17 year old is a little too steep but again if Highland Park is your thing then you need to look beyond that ( I know its hard ) this is left field Highland Park and although the smoke is rather a little softer than a typical release from them its just about evident still..