Origin: Orkney Islands (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Ageing casks: Ex-Sherry
Added coloring: No
Owner: The Edrington Group
Average price: € 43.00
Official website: www.highlandparkwhisky.com
Located in Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands, Highland Park is Scotland’s most northerly distillery. It takes its name from High Park, the hill on which it was built in 1797. Annual production is around two and a half million litres, 60% of which is bottled as single malts, with the remaining 40% going into the popular blended Cutty Stark and Famous Grouse. The distillery’s core range includes a 10 year old, the 12 year old under review, an 18 year old, a 25 year old, a 30 year old, a 40 year old and a 50 year old, the latter first offered in 2010.
Two peculiarities should be noted. The first is that the barley from the Scottish Borders (which serves most of Scotland’s distilleries) is blended with an indigenous barley, and the malt is obtained through a strictly manual process. The second is that due to the scarcity of trees on the Orkneys, the peat used is essentially rootless, which affects the floral nuances of Highland Park whiskies.
Finally, the distillery’s marketing department deserves a mention, as it is committed to celebrating the Viking origins of the local population with undoubted commercial acumen. Hence the great care taken over the packaging, which in recent years has undergone a convincing restyling entrusted to designer Jim Lyngvild, and the numerous of bottlings without age declaration, dedicated to famous Norse warriors or the most important figures in Nordic mythology.
The 12 year old, renamed Viking honour (easier to find than the 10 year old, Viking scars), is a beautiful deep gold, almost amber in colour (Highland Park whiskies are always a natural colour).
The nose immediately picks up a hint of sweet citrus, probably tangerine, followed by spicy notes that suggest ginger and/or nutmeg. Vanilla appears, timidly. The peat, present but in the background, is aromatic: campfire smoke.
On the palate, alongside the citrus, an impression of honey is immediately established, but not overly sweet and cloying. The spices detected on the nose are confirmed. The peaty note accompanies the dram like a continuous bass (to use a musical term): it seems to dictate the alternation of flavours in the mouth with a persuasive rhythm.
The finish is long and comforting, with lingering citrus and honey.
A popular entry level, elegant and complex, with a quality/price ratio of 10. Also recommendable to those who are not particularly fond of peat, which is really gentle here: a perfumed caress.