Highland Park is an Orcadian distillery with a rich history and reputation for producing remarkable single malts.
According to records, Highland Park was officially founded in 1798 by direct Viking descendant Magnus Eunson, but it was the site for illicitly whisky distilling many years before.
Honouring tradition and Orkney’s heritage (the archipelago was under Viking rule for more than 600 years) is of the utmost importance to the Highland Park team. For more than two centuries, the team has smoked its own barley over 4,000-year-old peat that has been hand-cut seven miles from the distillery on Hobbister Moor. Every eight hours, seven days a week, Highland Park continues to turn its malt by hand – making it one of the last remaining distillers to do so.
The distillery team works directly with forests to select European and American oak trees. Once selected, these must be cut into staves at precisely 45°. This is a tradition passed down from their ancestors to make watertight longships. The staves are shipped to Jerez, where they are made into casks and filled with Sherry for two years, before being emptied and shipped back to Orkney.
Most of the Orkney islands are uninhabited – with a mere 20 out of 70 home to human life and enterprise. The islands are subjected to wind speeds in excess of 100mph and winters can be long and unrelenting. On average, temperatures of approximately 2°C in winter and 16°C in summer are recorded, which is considered ideal for the ageing of whisky.
The Highland Park distillery, which sits on the southern edge of Kirkwall, boasts 23 warehouses and two pagoda-topped kilns – the youngest of which is more than 100 years old.
In addition to the ever-popular core range, Highland Park lets acclaimed Whisky Maker Gordon Motion flex his creative muscle with the limited and special releases. Motion – who joined parent company Edrington in 1998 as Assistant to the Master Whisky Maker – has more than 150 casks to play with. The resulting whiskies have included the likes of Valfather (the most peated whisky in the stable), Twisted Tattoo 16 Year Old (matured in a combination of first-fill Rioja wine casks and ex-Bourbon casks) and a number of 10-, 12-, and 17-year-old single malts. Highland Park’s new-make is rich and perfectly balanced with heather honeyed notes.
Edrington also owns The Macallan, The Glenrothes, The Famous Grouse and Naked (formerly Naked Grouse).