Go to content

Main menu:

Highland Park

Whisky Collection Bar > H

HIGHLAND PARK            

12 years old

40%    INFO                
The Northern most Scotch Distillery
Orkney Islands
James Grant & Company,
(Highland park Distillery)


8 years old

Distilled 20.1.86
Bottled 9.94
Cask No. 93
460 bottles
Van Wees, Amersfoort


8 years old

Distilled 20.1.86
Bottled 9.94
Cask No. 92
380 bottles
Van Wees, Amersfoort


9 years old

43 %                          
Distilled 20.1.86
Bottled 1.95
Cask No. 91
440 bottles
Van Wees, Amersfoort


6 years old

43 %                       
Distilled 12.88
Bottled 6.95
Cask No. 1210
480 bottles
Van Wees, Amersfoort


6 years old

Distilled 12.88
Cask No. 1209
Bottled 6.95
475 bottles
Van Wees, Amersfoort


21 years old

40%       INFO         
BICENTENARY 1798- 1998

Distilled: 1977
Bottled: 1998
Celebrating 200 Golden Years
James Grant & Co.
(Highland Park Distillery)
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands


14 years old

46 %   INFO        
Distilled on: 16 th June 1988
Bottled 17 th June 2002
Cask No. 713
401 Genummerde flessen
No Chillfiltration
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh


8 years old

43 %                   
Selected Single Malts
Wines & Whiskies, G.A. de Jong, Delft


Geen leeftijd vermelding

40 %

Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co, Ltd, Edinburgh


13 years old

56,3%      INFO            
Date Distilled Apr 80
Date Bottled Jan 94
Single Malt Scotch Whisky No. code L 4.22
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh


10 years old

46 %                  
Distilled 11/11/92
Bottled 12/03/02
Matured in a refill - sherrycask
Cask No. 20574
210 Genummerde flessen
Non Chill-filtered
Usquebach Society, Nederland


16 years old

57,8 %     INFO            
Date Distilled Oct 82
Date Bottled Sept 99
Society Cask No. code 4.66
The Scotch Malt Whisky Society,
The Vaults, Leith, Edinburgh
'Opal Fruits in a Peat reek'


8 years old 43 %            
from the Islands of Orkney
Gradi 43o - Idrati CL.
75 - Anidri 32.25
E Importato Dalla G.F.
Ferraretto E C. Milano
Licenza Utif 129 James Grant & Co,
(Highland Park Distillery) Ltd
Kirkwall, Orkney


18 years old

43 %          
Gradi 43o - Idrati CL.
75 - Anidri 32.25
E Importato Dalla G.F.
Ferraretto E C. Milano
Licenza Utif 129James Grant & Company
(Highland Park Distillery) Ltd
Kirkwall, Orkney


7 years old

43 %                           
Distilled 14.12.88
Cask No. 1212
Bottled 11.95
485 bottles
Van Wees, Amersfoort

HIGHLAND PARK   10 years old 43 %                  
Distilled 31/10/89
Cask No. 3213
Bottled 10/5/2000
The Ultimate Whisky Company, N.L.


36 years old

A Unique Whisky of Distinction
Fons et Origo
Distilled 05.1966
Bottled 07.2002
Cask No. 4640
184 bottles
Duncan Taylor & Co.

HIGHLAND PARK    11 years old 57,7 %    INFO         
Matured in a sherry butt
Distilled on 21.9.90
Bottled 20.5.2002
Cask No. 15448
596 Genummerde flessen
Natural Colour
Signatory Vintage
Scotch Whisky Co,Ltd, Edinburgh


19 years old

55,3 %    INFO        
From the Northernmost
Scotch Whisky Distillery
in the World
Specially Selected and Bottled
in Scotland for
Cask number 2793
was filled at an original
alcohol strenght of 55,3 %,
on the 13th of November 1986
and placed in warehouse 19
at Highland Park distillery
Sherry Wood Matured
Bottled 2005
1120 Numbered Bottles
International Whisky Festival,
Leiden 2005
Highland Park Distillery,
Kirkwall, Orkney
35 cl bottle


Aged  15 years

40 %            
The Northernmost Scotch Whisky
Distillery in the World
James Grant & Company
(Highland Park Distillery)
Kirkwall,  Orkney Islands


Aged 40 years  

40.7 %                 
Region Island
Unique Whiskies of Distinction
Fons et Origo
Date distilled 12.1966
Cask no. 11009
Date bottled 12.2006
Numbered Bottles
294 Bottles
No Chillfiltering or Colourings of any kind
Duncan Taylor, Huntly, Aberdeenshire


Aged 25 years

53,5 %  INFO                                       
Orkney Islands
Highland Park Distillery, Kirkwall,
(Older bottling)


1 9 6 8
Aged  40  years  

40,9 %                  
Cask Strenght  Single Island Malt
Unique Whiskies of Distinction
Fons et Origo
Distilled 28.03.68

Cask No. 3464
Bottled 11.11.08
175 Numbered Bottles
Duncan Taylor and Co, Ltd,
Huntly, Aberdeenshire


Aged  12 years  

55 %
Distilled in Kirkwall
1 of 11.994 Bottles
Highland Park Distillery, Kirkwall, Orkney


1 9 9 4   

40 %
Distilled 1994
Distilled in Kirkwall
Bottled in 2010
Created exclusively for Global
Highland Park Distillery, Kirkwall,
Orkney Islands.


1 9 8 9                                  
21 years old

46 %
Orkney Single Malt
Distilled: 04/12/89
Matured in a Sherry Butt
Cask no: 11895
Bottled: 08/03/11
771 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chillfiltering
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Company, NL


Aged  16  years  

52.1 %                           
1 of 23,000 Bottles
Highland Park Distillery,
Kirkwall, Orkney


2 0 0 1   

57.7 % INFO                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

GORDON  &  MACPHAIL                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

CASK  STRENGHT  SINGLE  MALT                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

SCOTCH  WHISKY                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

rom Highland Park Distillery                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Region: Orkney                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Distilled 16/10/2001                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Cask No. 299                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

1st Fill Bourbon Barrel                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Bottled 13/09/12                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Natural Colour                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Non Chill Filtered                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Especially Selected, Matured by                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Gordon & Macphail, Elgin
HIGHLAND  PARK  INFO                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

NEW  MAKE  SPIRIT   DRINK  50 %                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Distilled February 2010                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Bottled March 2010                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Volume 35 cl                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Highland Park Distillery, Kirkwall, Orkney Islands                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

1 9 8 6
20 years old

40 %                     
Distilled in the year 1986
Bottled in the year 2006
Numbered Bottles
Imported by Independent
Wine & Spirit (Thailand) Co, Ltd. Bangkok

VINTAGE  1 9 9 9
14 years old

46 %                                       
Distilled: 15/10/99
Matured in a Bourbon Barrel
Cask no: 800167
Bottled: 29/08/14
262 Numbered Bottles
Natural Colour
Non Chillfiltered
Selected by The Ultimate Whisky Company NL.

Estd 1798
Aged  10  years  

46 %                                   
Single Malt Scotch Whisky
"We guarantee this whisky to be
distilled solely from the finest
home grown barley
Distilled in Kirkwall
Highland Park Distillery,
Kirkwall, Orkney Islands


Est. 1798
47.2 %
The Orkney Single Malt with Viking Soul
Distilled 1999
Bottled 2017
Full Volume was created by:
Using 100 % first – fill bourbon casks rather than sherry seasoned ones
Combining 200 ltr barrels and 250 ltr hogsheads
Filling 481 caks on the 30th March, 29th April, 10th, 17th and 31st August,
7 th September
All during 1999
Fillig at strenght of between 63.6 and 63.7 %
Filtered at + 4 %
Highland Park Distillery, Orkney

Richard Burton from Kirkwall, was our warehouseman when these casks
were laid down – he is still working with us.

Tasting Notes:
Full Volume is a 1999 Vintage, intensely balanced, single malt Scotch whisky
Naturally pale and bright in colour, it delivers a light peaty aroma, punctuated                                      
with warm fruity notes of exotic mango and pineapple and a echo of ceder wood.
Warm and generous in th mouth, s sweet citrus treble of lemon peel perfectly
offsets deeper bass notes of creamy vanilla while subtle mid – tones of light
smoke maintain an enticing harmony.

Aged 18 years
53.6 %
Connoisseurs Choice
Cask Strenght
Region: Island
Distilled: 1999
Batch: 18/043
First Fill Bourbon Barrel
Outturn: 177 Bottles
Bottled: 18.05.2018
Non – Chill – Filtered
Natural Colour
The Pursuit of Perfection
Carefully Matured in our own Casks
with spirit entrusted to us from
Highland Park Distillery
Gordon & Macphail, Elgin Est 1895

Highland Malt
The Northern Highlands

Kirkwall, Orkney. Licentiehouder: James Grant & Co, Ltd. Eigendom van The Highland Distilleries Co. Pic.
Aan het eind van de 18e eeuw was het Orcadian distillateurs niet toegestaan om hun whisky te verkopen buiten de eilanden, maar smokkelpraktijken zorgden ervoor dat de whisky werd verkocht tot in de Lowlands.
In 1805 arriveerden de ambtenaren van de accijnzen op Orkney en de burgemeester van Kirkwall, ook eigenaar van een distilleerderij, Thomas Traill speelde op zeker en vroeg en kreeg een licentie om een brouwerij en distilleerderij te beginnen in de Millstreet te Kirkwall. Hij werkte samen met Magnus Eunson die ook een distilleerderij bezat.
Het is waarschijnlijk dat Highland Park op de plaats staat van de distilleerderij van Traill en Eunson.
In 1825 begon Robert Borwick Highland Park, de gebouwen waren het eigendom van een ambtenaar van accinzen, John Robertson.
Reden voor de vestiging van de distilleerderij hier, was de aanwezigheid van de waterbron te Cattie Maggie.
Highland Park bleef vijf en dertig in het bezit van de familie Borwick.
Toen James Borwick Highland Park erfde in 1869 vond hij het beter de distilleerderij te verkopen, vanwege zijn ambt als dominee.
In 1888 werd James Grant, wiens vader directeur was geweest van The Glenlivet, manager van Highland Park en in 1895 eigenaar.
De familie Grant bleef eigenaar van Highland Park tot 1937 toen Highland Bis^ tillers de distilleerderij overnam.
Highland Park heeft vier met stoom verhitte ketels en 20 % van de gemoute gerst komt van eigen moutvloeren.

Het water komt van Cattie Maggie's Spring.
De Mash tun is 11.4 ton.
De twaalf Wash backs zijn elk 29.000 liter.
De twee Wash stills hebben elk een inhoud van 20.000 liter, de twee Spirit stills elk 18.000 liter en worden indirect verhit met stoom.

De turf wordt gestoken te Hobbister Moor.
De mout, met 20 ppm phenol, is zwaar turfgerookt en wordt vervolgens gemengd met malt gedroogd boven niet geturfrookte malt, die wordt aangevoerd vanaf het vaste land.
De distilleerderij kat is (1998) Barley.
Tot 1996 had Highland Park twee huis katten, de tweede werd Malt genoemd.

Voorjaar 1999 kregen de Edrington Group en Highland Distillers verschil van mening over het niet of vel aanhouden van de beursnotering.
September 1999 wordt bekend dat Edrington en William Grant & Sons samen Highland Distillers overnemen.
De naam van de nieuwe onderneming luidt: The 1887 Company, wat slaat op het stichtingsjaar van Highland Distillers.
Edrington verkrijgt 70 %-, William Grant & Sons 30 % van de aandelen.

Augustus 2003.
Er is een kat aankomen lopen en die ging niet meer weg. Highland Park is de enige distil-leerderij met nu drie katten: Barley, Malt en Phenols.

Duncan Taylor & Co, Huntly, Aberdeen.

In 1933 begon Abe Rosenberg, samen met twee broers een drankengroothandel in Syosset te New York.
De Star Liqueor Company verkocht de merken Duncan Taylor, Hartley Parkers en McColls in de staten New York, Connecticut en Miami.
Na de tweede wereldoorlog werd Abe Rosenberg de alleen importeur van J & B blended whisky.
In 1964 begon Abe Rosenberg te investeren in vaten Schotse Single Malt Whisky, en lette bij aankoop in het bijzonder op de soort- en kwaliteit van het hout van de vaten.
De whiskies van Islay hadden zijn bijzondere yoorkeur.
In 1994, op 85 jarige leeftijd overleed Abe Rosenberg, en het beheer van zijn omvangrijke erfenis kwam in handen van een liefdadigheidsinstelling, die zijn naam droeg.
Om de erfenis ten gelde te maken zochten de beheerders contact in Schotland en kwamen uiteindelijk in contact met Euan Shand.
Euan Shand, zoon van een vroegere manager van Glendronach, en opgegroeid op de distilleer-derij, ging na zijn opleiding werken bij Allied Distillers te Glasgow, en was ook nog kort tijdelijk manager van Ardmore.
Na een korte onderbreking administrateur - boekhouder startte hij de Bennachie Scotch Whisky Co.
In 1997 kocht Euan Shand de merken Glendarroch en Whisky Galore.
Euan Shand werd koper de whiskyvoorraad en Duncan Taylor & Co.
Deze voorraad bestaat uit ongeveer 4000 vaten whisky, deels inmiddels heel oud en bijzonder.
Macallen, Bowmore, Glen Grant en St. Magdalene, Laphroaig en Bunnahabhain uit 1966, gelagerd in Cognac en Sherryvaten.

1997   Highland Park 18 jaar oud en 25 jaar oud worden uitgebracht

2005   Highland Park 30 jaar oud wordt uitgebracht
         Highland Park 16 jaar oud wordt uitgebracht
         Highland park Ambassador's  Cask 1984 wordt uitgebracht voor
de Duty Free markt

2006   De tweede editie van Ambassador's Cask 10 jaar oud van 1966
wordt uitgebracht
         De verpakking wordt vernieuwd

2008   Highland park 40 jaar oud wordt uitgebracht in Juni

Since the days of the heroic Norse Sagas, Orkney has inspired the spirit of the storyteller.
As, since 1798 has Highland Park with hais lovingly crafted mellowness

Forever I flush the winters of men with wassails of corn. From 'John Barleycorn' by George

In a culture whose traditions have been shaped by long nights gathered round the flickering
flames whisky and the embroidered tale go naturally hand in hand

None more so than Highland Park 25 Year Old whose deep golden draught will awaken the
fire and the poetry in you

The Highland Park archive is home to many venerable bottles; one in particular,
dating from around 1870, fits perfectly as an inspiration for celebrating the life
the life of Saint Magnus. We worked with Stölzle Flaconnage, Highland Park's
specialist glassware supplier, to ignore 150 years of technological advances in
order to create a bottle complete with flaws and defects consistent with those
of the original.

In 1870 the bottle would have been hand - gathered, mouth - blown into a woo-
den mould and kept wet to prevent combustion. The raw materials would have
been sand and limestone along with naturally occurring sodium sulphate. Con-
taminants broadly determined the colour of the glass and little effort would have
been made to control capacity or functionality so long as it did not break.

This bottle matches the original in almost all regards, other than that it is made
in a factory, does'n leak and conforms to all applicable legislation. The modern
moulds echo the flaws in the hand - made one from two centuries ago; advanced
techniques were used to generate bubbles and colour consistency in the glass.
The artisans of 1870 would have be most impressed with our efforts made in
search of imperfection.

The image of saint magnus on the original label of the 1870 archive bottle was
inspired  by an ancient stained glass window. The impact of the label is shown
to maximum effect by the development of a simple, open fronted, etched wooden

Highland Park Saint Magnus Edition Two forms part of a series of three. It is a
perfectly - balanced, natural strength botling of hand - selected casks of 12
year old single malt; to appreciate it fully, take your time and add a little fresh
distilled water - a couple of drops at a time. This will release the subtle aromas
and reveal the complexity of a single malt that has been made wihin a mile of
St. Magnus Cathedral since 1798.

Whisky has been made in the traditional manner at Highland Park for more than
210 years. Released in 2010 this bottling is a tribute to the skilled and dedicated
craftsmen who built St. Magnus Cathedral.   

Highland Park takes its name from the High Park area on the outskirts of
Kirkwall Orkney, where in 1798 Magnus Eunson began distilling illegal
whisky. A local smuggler, Magnus would hide this forbidden spirit under
the pulpit of the church.

At Highland Park we insist on an uncompromising approach to whisky -
making. We 'r one of only a handful of distilleries that slowly malts its bar-
ley  on the stone floor, physically turning it by hand for a more balanced
flavor. Next, we smoke it over local aromatic peat, hand - cut from
Hobbister  Moor to bring a unique fragrant heather character to the whisky.
Then it's placed into oak casks - not just your usual bourbon casks though
sherry oak casks from Spain, that cost ten times as much, but bring a
priceless natural colour and flavor to our whisky. Then comes the hardest
part leaving it to quietly mature in the consistently cool  Orcadian air.

And even when it's ready, we're not. We have chosen and combined our
best casks from 1994, then we have left them to settle and harmonise,
for just that little bit longer to deliver our complex whisky. The result is a
delicious single malt with caramel and almond notes teasing sweetness
with hints of cinnamon and aromatic peat flavours delivering a warming
smokey finish. This special Vintage is the kinf of Dram you long for when
you've worked as hard as us.

Enjoy the perfect glass of Highland Park:

First, hold your glass to the light to enjoy the dark Amber hue, then tilt
and rotate it to see the beads of whisky appear on the inside of the glass.
The smaller they are the higher the alcohol strength, and the slower they
fall, the better the spirit quality. Next: add a drop of water and take three
long sniffs. The first just gets your nose used to the alcohol, but in the se-
cond , you'il discover caramel and almond sweetness, and in the third
fruit  - maybe ripening figs or cherries. Now taste the whisky by chewing
it in your mouth for 4 or 5 seconds then swallow. The top of your tongue
will start to tingle, and after a few seconds your mouth  will go dry, leaving
a warming smokey feeling and a flavor that keeps on going.


Saint Magnus is one of six canonized Norsemen born in the 11th and 12th centuries

when the Orkney Islands belonged to Norway. Among them were warriors and scholars:

Saint Magnus was in between these two extremes. He is decribed in
Orkneyinga Saga as 'a man of extraordinary distinction, tall with a fine, intelligent
look about him. He was a man of strict virtue, successful in war, wise, eloquent,
generous and magnanimous, open - handed with money and sound with advice,
and altogether the most populair of men'.

Born in 1075 and named Magnus Erlendsson, he demonstrated his saintly virtues
at the age of 18. King Magnus Barelegs took him on an expedition to the Hebrides
and beyond. Approaching Wales they encountered the fleet of Hugh the Stout and
Hugh the proud, sons of the King of Ireland, in the Menai Strait; both parties pre-
pared for battle with the exception of Saint Magnus who refused to fight as he had
no quarrel with anyone there. He stated 'God will shield me' and although he did't
take cover, he was't wounded having chanted psalms throughout the fighting.

Of course Saint magnus was not always so meek and mild; as a ruler of Orkney
in troubled times it would have been impossible for him to survive, without occa-
sional severity. However in comparison to his contemporaries, Sain Magnus was
a man of peace, contemplation and scholarly learning; spiritual intensity is more
a feature of Magnus' Saga than violence and cruelty. It is a life story of Christian
devotion and forgiveness, qualities that are not usually associated with the Vikings,
and includes the healing of the sick, crippled, blind and insane. Saint Magnus was
murdered by his treacherous cousin Haakon and was canonized only 20 years

The influence of Saint Magnus spread far and wide; more than 20 churches have
been dedicated to him and he was the inspiration for the novel Magnus by George
Mackay Brown and, in turn The Martyrdom of St. Magnus by Sir Peter Maxwell
Davies. The forname became populair in Orkney, notably in the case of Magnus
Eunson, a man forever associated with the founding of Highland Park distillery
in 1798.

Our Five Keystones of Production:
Hand turned malt
Aromatic peat
Coll maturation
Sherry oak casks
Cask harmoninsation

July, 2014
Highland Park launches Dark Origins

Highland Park has launched a core expression inspired by founder and distiller Magnus Eunson.
Dark Origins, a non-chill filtered single malt with 46.8% abv, will be available in Harrods from in 1- 14 July and launched internationally throughout autumn.

Highland Park uses twice as many first fill sherry casks in Dark Origins than the classic Highland Park 12 year old, resulting in "a naturally darker, richer flavour with sherried spice, a chocolate twist and the signature sweet smoke."  
At an rrp of £64.95, Dark Origins will be available from specialist whisky retailers at the Highland Park distillery following the UK launch at Harrods this month.
Gerry Tosh, global marketing manager, said: "Cask management is so crucial to our work at Highland Park. We have strived to raise the bar, working tirelessly in sourcing the right wood and then working and finessing the balances to ensure we create single malt that is rich, warm and enticing in flavour.

"Dark Origins sits in the heart of our core range complimenting them perfectly-distinct in itself, but always and forever a classic Highland Park."

HIGHLAND Park have completed their Valhalla collection of bottlings with the release of Odin,
named in honour of the Allfather of Norse mythology.
The four whiskies, wrought in the names of the denizens of Valhalla, have been created in celebration of the Orkney distillery's Norse heritage.
Odin will now join Loki, Thor and Freya on the shelves of those Highland Park fans lucky enough to be able to attain the collection.
Odin, designed to encapsulate the wisdom and power of the Allfather of the Norse gods, combines the potency of a cask-strength whisky - bottled at 55.8 per cent abv - with the balance of age - Odin is aged for 16 years- and is created from a combination of Spanish oak sherry casks and re-fill hogsheads.
Odin was a god that dedicated his time to the pursuit of knowledge. Indeed in one of the legends surrounding him, he gives one of his eyes to drink from the fountain on knowledge. A relentless seeker and giver of wisdom, the need to impart the gift of the knowledge and experience of a great dram is clear in this most interesting of whiskies.
Gerry Tosh, Global Marketing Manager for Highland Park, says: "Odin, like its namesake, is an intense, powerful and complex whisky. Bottled at 55.8 per cent ABV, it certainly lives up to the legend, a bold single malt higher in strength than Thor, Loki and Freya. In Odin, we have been able to add the final flourish to the Valhalla Collection, a stunning series of remarkable whiskies that offer affordability and exclusive collectability."
"Now that Odin has joined the ranks of the other gods in the Valhalla Collection, the first chapter in this series is complete. However, the Norse legends of old may still offer us future intrigues."
With only 17,000 bottles released globally, this limited edition whisky comes housed in the same distinctive award winning wooden frame of Thor, Loki and Freya echoing the fearsome contours of a traditional Viking long ship. The bottle itself reflects Odin's character - dark and imperfect and slightly battle worn.
Our tasting notes:
A wonderfully intense whisky, very much in the vein of Highland Park's previous bottlings, with a swirling battle of the elements; salt (the sea), peat (the earth) and smoke (fire) all battling for supremacy but it's the wonderfully light notes of fruit - lemon zest and plums - and honey in the finish that will leave the drinker wanting more.
Nose: In the bottle, it's all brine with wisps of subtle smoke but once poured the previously hinted at notes of fruit and honey really shine through.
Palate: Warm and spicy, hints of cinnamon and charred fruit.
Finish: Long and honeyed, drawing out the fruit to be replaced with brine and subtle smoke.
One for fans of whiskies with big flavours, a great all rounder and at 55.8 per cent abv you might want to be careful as it's far too easy to drink.

Highland Park gets its name from High park, the elevated area on which the distillery sits.

Peat is made up from semi-decomposed vegetation laid down over thousands of years. That vegetation differs across Scotland depending on climatic condition all these millennia ago. When the peat is dried and then burned, the phenols (smoky aromas) released will have different aromas generated by this vegetation. Mainland peat is smokier because of there being more lignin from trees; Islay’s peat appears to have more marine vegetation and contains more creosol (picked up as tar); while Orcadian peat is composed entirely of sphagnum moss and heather. The result, once again, is a different aromatic spectrum, lightly smoky, but significantly more fragrant… heathery even.

The peat is burned in the distillery’s own kiln and the resulting heavily smoky malt makes up 20% of the barley used for each mash. The remainder, unpeated, comes from the mainland.

The other signature of Highland Park comes later in the process with maturation. The regime has been 100% Sherry casks since 2004, with a mix of European and American oak (as well as refill) being used. These add a layer of richness to the lightly smoky, fragrant and fruity character.


The origins of distilleries are often, as they should be, obscured by the clouds of half-truth and myth. Such is the case with Highland Park. Was it founded by famed priest turned smuggler Magnus Eunson, or by farmer David Robertson in 1798? The distillery’s ornate wrought ironwork gate certainly attests to the 1798 story.

Was it always called Highland Park or originally was it known as Rosebank, then Kirkwall and only becoming Highland Park later?

Whatever the slight mystery over its origins, it is accepted that it wasn’t until the late 19th century that Kirkwall’s then only distillery found its feet properly in the 1870s under the ownership of first William Stuart [who owned Miltonduff] and from 1885 with his business partner James Grant (previously the manager of The Glenlivet) who took full control in 1895. It was Grant who expanded the distillery twice and built up a strong relationship with Robertson & Baxter (R&B).

Highland Distillers (who had shares in R&B) took full control in 1937 and Highland Park is now part of the Edrington Group.

It first appeared as single malt in the late 1970s, as an 8-year-old, but the packaging was revamped in the 1980s (and repeatedly ever since) when the 12- and 18-year-old expressions were introduced. It soon built up a strong, even cult, following with the range expanding continually. As well as a core range with age statements, various series have been released themed around Orcadian history and Norse gods.

Highland Park Distillery is founded by David Robertson
Excise officer John Robertson assumes control of production
The distillery becomes one of the first to obtain a license to distil; Robert Borwick takes over
Borwick's son, George, is handed the reins
George's brother, James, takes over but attempts to sell the distillery
Exports to Norway and India begin under Stuart & Mackay
Glenlivet's James Grant purchases Highland Park, expanding it to four stills three years later
Highland Distillers acquires Highland Park
Highland Park visitors' centre opens
Edrington and William Grant & Sons purchase Highland Distillers
The Warriors range is introduced to duty free

Shell and tube
Steam coils
Semi Lauter
Less than 3ppm
28,000 butt equivalent capacity
Kerry M & MX

The Edrington Group
1999 - present

Highland Distillers
1937 - 1999
James Grant
1895 - 1937
Stuart & Grant
1878 - 1895
Stuart & Mackay
1869 - 1878
The Borwick Family
1826 - 1869
Richard MacKay
1825 - 1826
David Robertson

1798 - 1825

Highland Park distillery had been running trials of a heritage barley variety Tartan since 2009.

October 2017
Highland Park is discontinuing its Warrior Series in travel retail, and replacing it with a new range led by Highland Park Voyage of the Raven.

Highland Park Voyage of the Raven
Voyage of the Raven: Highland Park's latest release marks the end of the Warriors
The new no-age-statement single malt is a limited edition expression marking the end of the Orkney distillery’s Warrior series.

In Norse mythology, the raven was a symbol of success on a voyage, and loyalty to the god Odin, whose two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, were his eyes and ears in the Viking world.

Highland Park Voyage of the Raven has been matured mostly in first-fill Sherry casks and bottled at 41.3% abv.

It’s described as having notes of vanilla, cedar, black cherries and spice.

Jason Craig, brand director at Highland Park, said: ‘This very special single malt is rich, dark and spicy, featuring Highland Park’s signature aromatic smokiness produced by the distillery’s unique woodless peat, hand-cut from Hobbister Moor.’

Available in limited volumes in global travel retail for €65, the expression precedes the launch of Highland Park’s new travel retail collection next spring.

The new range will replace the brand’s Warrior series, which launched in 2013 with the Svein, Einar and Harald expressions. Sigurd, Ragnvald and Thorfinn were introduced later in the year.

Its introduction comes as part of a brand overhaul for Highland Park, which launched a new bottle design and several new expressions in May 2017.

October 2017
Highland Park is discontinuing its Warrior Series in travel retail, and replacing it with a new range led by Highland Park Voyage of the Raven.

Highland Park Voyage of the Raven
Voyage of the Raven: Highland Park's latest release marks the end of the Warriors
The new no-age-statement single malt is a limited edition expression marking the end of the Orkney distillery’s Warrior series.

In Norse mythology, the raven was a symbol of success on a voyage, and loyalty to the god Odin, whose two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, were his eyes and ears in the Viking world.

Highland Park Voyage of the Raven has been matured mostly in first-fill Sherry casks and bottled at 41.3% abv.

It’s described as having notes of vanilla, cedar, black cherries and spice.

Jason Craig, brand director at Highland Park, said: ‘This very special single malt is rich, dark and spicy, featuring Highland Park’s signature aromatic smokiness produced by the distillery’s unique woodless peat, hand-cut from Hobbister Moor.’

Available in limited volumes in global travel retail for €65, the expression precedes the launch of Highland Park’s new travel retail collection next spring.

The new range will replace the brand’s Warrior series, which launched in 2013 with the Svein, Einar and Harald expressions. Sigurd, Ragnvald and Thorfinn were introduced later in the year.

Its introduction comes as part of a brand overhaul for Highland Park, which launched a new bottle design and several new expressions in May 2017.

Highland Park HILLHEAD – the final edition in THE KEYSTONES SERIES – is due for release in mid April and, if the previous four special editions in this series are anything to go by, we expect demand to be very high.
Once again, we’re only producing 1,200 bottles and these can only be purchased from our online shop, by Inner Circle members, at a UK price of £75 (plus postage) for a 70cl bottle. We appreciate that many of you may have been disappointed not to secure one of the first four bottles in the series, but do please try again, one last time. To be in with a chance to buy HILLHEAD, please register your interest now, by clicking on the link below. We deliver to 27 countries – click here to check our full distribution list.

We launched our KEYSTONES SERIES in summer 2016 to share and showcase the impact made by each of our five traditional keystones of production on the flavour and character of our whisky. HOBBISTER highlighted the contribution of our unique heathery peat; SHIEL, the impact of our hand-turned floor maltings; QUERCUS, the contribution made by our sherry seasoned European oak casks; and YESNABY, the effect of our temperate Orcadian climate. HILLHEAD, our final release, is named after our distillery in Kirkwall and explores the impact of cask harmonisation – a process we believe is fundamental, but which many distilleries consider an extravagance.
For every batch of Highland Park released, Gordon Motion, our Master Whisky Maker, carefully selects up to 150 matured casks and combines them. The whisky is then left to rest for a minimum of a month before being bottled. During this critical resting period, flavours from the different casks have time to mix, settle and harmonise.
For HILLHEAD, Gordon selected three first-fill casks – sherry seasoned European oak, sherry seasoned American oak and ex-bourbon American oak – to highlight the impact of harmonization on our intensely balanced whisky. Bottled at 46%, HILLHEAD’S long finish and fully rounded flavour carries notes of creamy vanilla, fresh coconut and lemon zest, expertly balanced with waves of heather honey and a light, spicy smokiness.
Registration closes at midnight (UK time) on Tuesday 10th April 2018. Good luck!

May 2018
Orkney single malt Highland Park has completed a two-part series of releases with the launch of Highland Park The Light, a 17-year-old whisky matured in American oak casks.

Highland Park The Light
Changing seasons: Highland Park The Light aims to reflect spring and summer on Orkney
The new expression aims to reflect the spring and summer seasons on Orkney, celebrating ‘a time to emerge from winter hibernation, ready to embrace the warm, bright days of summer’.

Highland Park The Light is the second of a two-part series, following last year’s release of Highland Park The Dark, a Sherry cask-matured single malt designed to represent autumn and winter.

Bottled in pale green glass with a Viking-inspired serpent dragon on the front, Highland Park The Light is said to combine flavours of caramelised pear, nutmeg, vanilla, cedar wood and light peat smoke.

‘In both The Light and The Dark, we share the story of the noble Viking warriors who are our ancestors, of our contrasting island seasons and of the intense balance of our whisky,’ said Jason Craig, Highland Park brand director.

As with The Dark, 28,000 bottles of The Light are available, bottled at 52.9% abv, naturally coloured and with a UK recommended selling price of £190 for a 70cl bottle.

July 2018
Highland Park is introducing a new series of single malts for global travel retail, inspired by iconic animals in Viking culture.

Highland Park Viking spirit animals
Animal spirit: The first three expressions in Highland Park’s new global travel retail range
The Orkney distillery is introducing four new expressions which will be available exclusively in duty free.

Highland Park Spirit of the Bear is a no-age-statement expression matured primarily in ex-Sherry American oak casks, and bottled at 40% abv.

Described as having notes of smoke, root ginger, nutmeg and vanilla, Spirit of the Bear will be available in one-litre bottles for around £44/ €50.

Highland Park Loyalty of the Wolf is a 14-year-old malt matured in ex-Sherry American oak casks and ex-Bourbon barrels.

Bottled at 42.3% abv, it’s described as exhibiting vanilla sponge cake, baked apples and cinnamon flavours, with a light smokiness. The expression will be available for £57/ €65 for a one-litre bottle.

Highland Park Wings of the Eagle is a 16-year-old malt described as a ‘spicy and elegant’ whisky.

Matured in ex-Sherry casks made from European and American oak, the expression is bottled at 44.5% abv and will be available for £79/ €90 for a 70cl bottle.

Finally, Highland Park Viking Pride is a 46% abv, 18-year-old bottling that has been matured primarily in ex-Sherry European oak casks, and is described as a ‘naturally darker whisky with a fuller flavour’.

The new range has already been launched in European travel retail, with Viking Pride set to join the collection later this summer at £100/ €110 for a 70cl bottle.

The collection will be rolled out into Asian and Middle Eastern sirports from September, and into the Americas from December.

Jason Craig, brand director for Highland Park, said: ‘The new travel retail exclusive Highland Park collection marks a major step for the brand as we look to deliver new innovations and explore new flavour profiles for whisky drinkers around the world.’

The launch of Highland Park’s travel retail range follows a complete makeover for the brand in 2017, with the introduction of a new bottle design and limited editions.

Highland Park's The Light sales on target
August, 2018

Sales figures for Highland Park’s latest release, The Light, show the £190 bottle of whisky is set to reach its international targets for the year.

According to Highland Park senior brand ambassador Martin Markvardsen, the 17-year-old single malt is proving popular amongst collectors and whisky experts around the world.

“The sales figures we have right now are very good because not only are the collectors trying to complete the pair with The Dark, but the on trade also likes the design and packaging,” said Markvardsen.

“Although the sales are going well, it’s not supposed to be sold out in a month, it’s supposed to be sold out in a year until we have something else ready to bring out.”

The Dark was the first of the two-part series which launched in 2017 and Highland Park released a similar series called Fire and Ice in 2016 with the same price bracket, age statement and abv.

“Being honest this is not a recruitment whisky, it’s a connoisseur dram – people who have been drinking whisky for a long time or even collectors,” added Markvardsen.

“We’re seeing that releasing our whiskies in pairs is going well. In the past we’ve done a four-part series but we found it makes collectors wait a long time so when we launched Dark and Light in Hong Kong at the same time it was a huge hit because they were both on the shelves side-by-side.”

The Light is bottled at 52.9%abv and aged for 17 years in ex-bourbon barrels with a limited stock of 28,000 bottles being released internationally. The whisky is said to have tasting notes of pear, vanilla and soft spice.

Markvardsen concluded: “Highland Park has always been known for using cherry casks and European oak, but with The Light we’ve used American oak refill casks and the reception we’ve had around the world for this release has been tremendous.

“We’ve done quite a lot at 17 years old because it seems to be the age statement where we can get all the quality out of the oak and keep the whisky’s character. It’s a whisky with a lot of power but with elegance too.”

September 2018
Orkney single malt Highland Park has announced its oldest release in eight years – Highland Park 50 Year Old, drawn from two ex-Sherry hogshead casks and priced at US$15,000 a bottle.

Highland Park 50 Year Old
Rare beast: Only 274 bottles of Highland Park’s new 50-year-old malt will be released
Only 274 bottles of the new expression will be released, drawn from a pair of ex-Sherry hogsheads laid down in 1964 and ‘discovered’ at the back of a warehouse in 2008, according to Highland Park owner Edrington.

Whisky from the two casks was combined and married for a further eight years, along with a ‘small amount’ of liquid from Highland Park’s 50-year-old release from 2010.

The whisky was bottled at 42.5% without chill-filtration or artificial colour, with each bottle numbered and signed by Highland Park whisky maker Max McFarlane.

Highland Park 50 Year Old is described as ‘sweet at first, with notes of ripe black cherries and muscovado sugar, giving way to dried autumn fruits and warm, toasted wood’.

The whisky comes in an oak box made by Scottish designer and master craftsman John Galvin, which contains a bottle of Highland Park 50 Year Old, a crystal decanter and a leather book about the whisky’s development.

Released from September 2018, Highland Park 50 Year Old is priced at US$15,000 a bottle.


We created THE DOLPHINS in conjunction with The Royal Navy Submariners to celebrate the proud history of the Submarine Service. A light but richly layered single malt, it combines exotic fruit flavours with light peaty notes.
An Inner Circle online offer
THE DOLPHINS has, until now, only been available in the shops and bars on the Royal Navy base at Faslane in Scotland, but we’re delighted to give our Inner Circle members the opportunity to buy it online, priced at a UK RSP of £40 for a 700ml bottle. With only a limited number of bottles available, orders are restricted to two bottles per member, on a first come, first served basis, while stocks last.

Proudly supporting The Royal Navy Submariners
Having created THE BATTLE OF JUTLAND special commemorative bottle for The Royal Navy in 2016, we were honoured to be asked to create THE DOLPHINS as an officially licenced product for the Submarine Service. This very special whisky was named after the Dolphins badge which is awarded to British Submariners on successful completion of one of the toughest courses in the world – the Submarine Command Course – aptly known as ‘Perisher’.
Our Viking ancestors were renowned for their intrepid ocean voyages and we’re delighted to pay tribute to that tradition by supporting today’s brave seafaring men and women.

September, 2018 Highland Park launches 50-year-old whisky worth £13.5k

Highland Park has released 274 bottles of a 50-year-old single malt worth £13.5k, making it the oldest release by the distillery for more than a decade.

Max McFarlane, Highland Park whisky maker, said: “We hand bottled this Highland Park 50 Year Old from just two sherry seasoned Spanish hogshead casks laid down in 1964, over half a century ago.

“Justifiably nervous of the whisky’s great rarity, we decided that the two casks simply couldn’t be allowed to travel together."

Each cask was transported separately at different dates in late 2009 and then married for a further eight years at the brand’s warehouse in Glasgow.

“When we brought these two 1964 hogsheads together, we also introduced a small amount of our original 50YO first released in 2010, a 1960 Vintage,” added McFarlane.

The whisky is 42.5% abv and is said to be “sweet at first with notes of ripe black cherries and Muscovado sugar giving way to dried autumn fruits and warm, toasted wood”.

November 2018
Highland Park has introduced a new peated single malt available exclusively through online retailer Amazon UK.

Highland Park Viking Tribe
Viking Tribe: The no-age-statement whisky joins Highland Park’s growing core range
Highland Park Viking Tribe is a permanent new addition to the extensive Orkney distillery’s range, sitting alongside Highland Park 12 Year Old and Dragon Legend as the brand’s entry-level expressions.

Matured in refill casks and bottled at 46% abv without an age statement, Viking Tribe is described as having notes of ‘vanilla, citrus and pepper with a peaty edge’.

The bottle label features a symbol inspired by the Urnes knotwork, which symbolise togetherness, found on the Stavkirke churches in Norway.

Jason R. Craig, brand director at Highland Park, said: ‘This Viking Tribe expression is exclusively available through Amazon UK as we share their vision that consumers are increasingly looking to the online environment for new, exciting whiskies.’

Highland Park Viking Tribe is now available online for £43 for a 70cl bottle.

Its introduction to the distillery’s range follows last year’s complete brand overhaul, which saw the introduction of several new expressions.

Last month Amazon partnered with Bowmore to offer an exclusive 19-year-old whisky, the Islay distillery’s first expression matured solely in French oak barriques.

punctuated by the lingering presence of the zesty orange with just a hint of smoke.

Finish: Lengthy lingering undercurrents of mature wood define the finish.

A pleasing, well-rounded dram: the epitome of a winter toddy

Highland Park Distillery (1989) 57.0% ABV

Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice Collection November 2018

Colour: Amber

Region: Island

Distilled: Tuesday, 07 March, 1989

Bottled: Tuesday, 18 September, 2018

Years old: 29

Cask No.: 1087

Cask Type: Refill Sherry butt

Outturn: 613

Batch: 18/084

Connoisseurs Choice Tasting Notes :

Aroma: Sherry influences infuse with deep vanilla notes and cocoa powder. Stewed fruits and cinnamon persist and combine with underlying beeswax polish aromas.

Taste: Stewed plum and cherry flavours give way to cinnamon and clove. Flashes of orange peel combine with a subtle tobacco note; smoky charred oak nuances linger.

Finish: Long with a lingering warmth; citrus highlights balance an undercurrent of charred oak.

Personal tasting notes Official sample provided by Gordon & MacPhail

Nose: Dominant aromas of sherry, vanilla and good quality dark chocolate combine with aromatic spices: cinnamon bark and nutmeg and stewed stone fruit, all on top of an underlying note of wood polish and a hint of smoke.

Taste: A fudge sweetness with elements of ground coffee and demerara sugar combine with complex aromatic spices as well as hints of dark chocolate orange and lingering subtle notes of floral peat or tobacco.

Finish: A long warming dry finish, with elements of citrus peel and charred oak smoke.

A superb bottling, demonstrating all the characteristics that has made bottlings from this distillery avidly sought after by any serious lover of the spirit.

July 2016
Not one for letting old and rare bottlings sit collecting dust in a dank cellar or dusty attic, French wine producer Olivier Humbrecht first realised his penchant for Highland Park during a holiday in Italy. Here, he tells Angus MacRaild why he doesn’t consider himself to be a conventional collector, how winemaking shaped his views on whisky and why he’d rather do away with NAS.

Olivier Humbrecht Highland Park Scotch whisky
Whisky and wine: Olivier Humbrecht has been co-owner and manager of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht since 1989
Who are you and what do you do?
‘I am Olivier Humbrecht, co-owner and manager of Domaine Zind-Humbrecht since 1989. It is a family estate of 100 acres in Alsace. I don’t like the word “winemaker”, but that would basically describe my job at the winery. I also travel a lot representing the Domaine around the world.’

What whisky do you collect and why?
‘Highland Park and a few other goodies. Not sure I am a collector any more, though… I do get a bit crazy if I see an interesting and especially old bottle of Highland Park, but I wouldn’t hesitate to open some rare ones. I guess a real collector wouldn’t touch them.

‘I eventually started a collection because I bought more bottles than I could open and finish (Ok, no need to help me!). During a memorable trip to Italy in 2004 with Serge Valentin, Luc Timmermans and Johannes van den Heuvel, we went to visit Valentino Zagatti. He gave us a wonderful welcome and opened an old bottle of Highland Park 8-year-old bottled in the late ’70s, which people describe as the “Sea of Orkney” label. I absolutely adored this whisky for the taste (gentle palate, roundness, discreet peat) and the charm of the label, combined together with friends. It was a great moment.

‘I had never been on Orkney before, but I put a trip there on my bucket list. Then, whenever I could, I bought old Highland Parks during that trip.’

How did your passion for whisky begin?
‘My wife Margaret is Scottish. We met in 1987 and spent our first long weekend together in Scotland, and not just anywhere – on Skye. Driving there, there was this shop in Inveraray (Loch Fyne Whiskies) and, driving to the Three Chimneys, there was this distillery called Talisker. This is why Talisker always has a place in my heart and in my cellar. I do not really collect, it but it does correspond to what I like in Scotch whisky: character, light peat, intensity and it is a beautiful place. The rest is history. For many years after, we would drive towards this part of Scotland and Loch Fyne Whiskies was an annual compulsory stop.’

How has being a whisky collector impacted on the rest of your life?
‘First, I needed to get a room to put all the bottles in, so there was some physical work involved. Trying to find old and rare bottles meant that I would go to every whisky shop – even obscure ones – check the internet on a regular basis and travel to places to get a special bottle made only for a specific country or customer. Luckily, I get to travel a lot for work.’

Tell us a bit about your wines?
‘In order to make a great wine, you need a great place, a team that is dedicated to doing well and some good ideas, while at the same time respecting some traditions. I hope that we do all of this uncompromisingly. Zind-Humbrecht is lucky to be able to work with some of the best vineyards in Alsace, thanks mostly to my father’s (Léonard Humbrecht) visionary attitude in the ’60s and ’70s. Acquiring hard to work/fantastic vineyards in those days wasn’t common. Today, all wine producers want the best land, but it is either too expensive or not available. Back then, nobody wanted to make the effort of cultivating steep hillsides.’

How has being a winemaker informed your passion for whisky?
‘Being a winemaker probably makes me want to know more about certain technical aspects in the making of spirits. The constant search for complexity and character makes me question everything. I don’t care about considerations such as “it’s too complicated”, “it’s less efficient” or “it will cost more”. This is why I am often very critical of practices that will increase productivity but alter taste. The notion of origin is very important to me.

‘I am surprised that information such as Islay, Highland, Lowland, Islands, Coastal, Speyside etc have not been more defined and protected. In fact, Scotch whisky only has one AOP (Appellation d’Origine Protégée) for all of its production. The risk is that some ancient usage may disappear if they are not protected. When I taste whisky, I always look at the influence of the place, which for me is more important than the type of wood, finishing or shape of the box.’

Humbrecht’s father was one of the rare wine producers willing to tame steep hillsides in the ’60s and ’70s​

Do you think a knowledge of wine and a knowledge of whisky are mutually beneficial?
‘Knowledge of any form is always beneficial. A winegrower that only knows his own wines is often not a very good one. Maybe it is the same for a distiller. What saddens me in the whisky world is the complete ignorance of the product used to produce Scotch whisky: barley. You wouldn’t meet a winegrower of distinction that doesn’t know about vines and grapes! Or, if there is knowledge, it is only used to produce the most productive and alcohol-yielding type of barley.

‘The Scotch whisky industry has lost the link between the spirit and the earth of Scotland. What happens in the distillery is now more important than what happens in the field. With the growing importance of other regions in the whisky-producing world, I fear it will be more difficult to claim superiority if the product isn’t linked to Scotland. I probably liked a lot of whiskies made from barley grown outside of Scotland, but I like to think that some of the best ones in the old style found before the ’60s were made with local barleys (hang on, that expression rings a bell!).’

Were you ever tempted to try making your own whisky?
‘Sure, but it isn’t my tradition. I have tasted some interesting new makes in Alsace, but not the kind that makes you smile and gives you shivers. Our traditions are in marc and eaux-de-vie, and that’s what we make very well in our region. We have the know-how and the products are grown here (at least the best ones are).

‘I see too many people buying a vineyard, hiring the best consultants and often making dull wines at the end. Most of the time, failures can be explained by the wrong choice of vineyard, production optimisation instead of quality and no traditions. In the whisky world, it is probably the same thing. The terroir concept in wine can be translated in whisky words by origin and type of barley, the location of the distillery and tradition of distilling. So for me, the soil, environment of the distillery and people are forging the whisky.’

As a winemaker, what are your feelings on the approaches to fermentation in whisky production?
‘Fermentation is definitely an important process in winemaking. A lot of the personality of a wine comes from the vineyard; structure, style and some of the aromatics also originate from the fermentation process. It is also a moment where everything can go wrong. Many of the major faults that can be found in wine are produced during or just around the time of alcoholic fermentation. Yeasts also have an important part to play in the stabilisation of wine through autolysis mechanisms.

‘As I understand it, fermentation is also very important in the process of making whisky. Perhaps most of the aromatic precursors are built around that time and will be responsible for the character of the distillate. The type of yeast used will determine some of the flavours found in whisky. The conditions under which the yeasts work will probably also – as with wine – determine different styles of whisky and aromatics (temperature, time, size/style of vessel etc).

‘In winemaking, we clearly believe that maximum character is obtained when multiple yeast strains are active at various times and, more importantly, when fermentation is not too fast. This is almost impossible to obtain with commercial yeasts, so we only allow indigenous yeasts to ferment. It’s hugely important for the integrity of the building or, more precisely, the environment of the fermenting vessels. A building which is saturated with chlorine and has seen multiple uses of commercial yeasts will never allow for a wild fermentation.

‘All commercial yeasts are stronger as they have been given a “killer gene”, which means they kill all natural yeast in the liquid. They will be the only ones surviving, so even if a distillery stops using commercial yeast, it will be the same strain doing the job for years to come before nature takes over. In the wine business I’ve seen cellars infected with the same commercial yeast for over 20 years, with still no sign of indigenous yeasts taking over. It’s amazing.

‘And grape must isn’t heated like wash, so it should be richer in wild yeasts. I’d be really curious to taste a new make produced from a real wild fermentation one day. There is a way to (re-)inoculate the wash with indigenous yeasts. There are labs that could isolate yeasts in the barley and multiply the most interesting strains. It would be fascinating.’

So you’re not a fan of today’s whisky production methodology?
‘I think I already answered this question. But to be more blunt, I am not interested in fancy designs, stupid wood designations (how can oak not be fine?), no-age-statements (I don’t care whether the whisky is only five years old – it can be very good, but I want to know its age), or anything that distracts me from the product. Saying this, I see more and more recent releases from the ’90s and 2000s that are again more and more interesting.’

How has the changing character of Highland Park affected your approach to collecting it?
‘It is hard to judge the production or potential of a distillery if one doesn’t taste every batch made in a year. I believe it is easy to have a wrong impression by just tasting the standard releases. These are made to satisfy a certain price/demand. So, if Asian customers like Port wood character, I believe a distillery would be foolish not to produce some Port-finished batches.

‘Unfortunately, I am not a great fan of wood finishing (what a dreadful expression), so there are quite a lot of modern expressions that I don’t like – but I wouldn’t dare say that they are not good! It is a personal taste. It seems that Highland Park is doing quite well in Nordic countries and there, luckily for me – and that’s why I like this distillery a lot – they like quite pure whiskies. Luckily, Highland Park’s main market isn’t Asia.

‘I also must admit that Highland Park is today one of the rare distilleries that still has a core range with full age statements going from 12 to 50 years old, and lots of vintage releases. The Norse Gods releases are fun and overall quite good, but will never replace a classic 21-, 25- or 30-year-old in my cellar. I recently tasted a sample I’ve kept from the 23-year-old (distilled 1982, bottled 2006) made for Park Avenue USA. The whisky developed such an amazing fruit quality and the texture/power/length was perfect. This was made in the early ’80s at a time when many distilleries dropped in quality, but not Highland Park.’

Have rising prices affected your collecting?
‘Good things always get more expensive with time. It’s irritating that I have to work more to buy a great bottle, but ultimately, if the quality makes me not regret having bought the bottle, then I don’t care. I remember this crazy Swiss friend who bought this crazy Port Ellen ‘Queen’s Visit’ 12-year-old to a party last year in Islay. It cost an arm and a leg, but the sharing produced such an effect on the group that the memory of the moment is almost worth more than the whisky itself. Collecting great bottles is also about collecting and sharing great moments.’

What are the prize bottles in your collection?
‘It really should be old Highland Park, like the dumpy 27-year-old made for Fortnum & Mason, or the 12-year-old official St Magnus label bottled around the late ’40s or early ’50s. However, since you’re asking the question, Angus, I’m going to say that it is the Laphroaig 1967 Samaroli since you start to foam at the mouth each time you see it!’

(Well, probably about time you opened it, don’t you think, Olivier...)
What would be your ‘Holy Grail’ bottle to find?
‘The one that nobody knows exists!’

What would be your favourite everyday whiskies?
‘Highland Park 21-year-old at 47.5% abv, Highland Park 18-year-old and Talisker 10-year-old.’

What has been the greatest whisky experience of your life so far?
‘Too many… But at the top it was being able to taste an old 10-year-old Highland Park St Magnus label bottled in the early 1950s, mostly because I didn’t know what to expect and the whisky was utterly amazing.’
Back to content | Back to main menu