Highland Park Whisky - A single malt with a Viking soul.
The Viking spirit continues to live on in the proud, adventurous and fiercely independent taste of Highland Park single malt Scotch whisky.
“This meticulously crafted, award-winning whisky pays tribute to the descendants of the Vikings, their adventuring spirit, their determined approach to life and single-minded way of doing things and will resonate with those of us who like to chart our own course,” explains Rowan Leibbrandt founding partner of premium liquor Distibutor Truman & Orange.
It was early in the 9th century, when Viking longboats left the shores of Denmark and Norway to navigate uncharted waters in search of new lands to conquer. They soon came upon the remote islands of Orkney, scattered off the extreme north coast of Scotland below the Arctic Circle and were swept up into a vast Viking kingdom ruled by a succession of Viking Earls.
The founder of Highland Park, Magnus Eunson was a direct descendant of one of the original Viking Earls who ruled Orkney. An enterprising character, Magnus was a butcher and church officer by day, and a bootlegger and smuggler by night. People say that the distillery was founded in 1798 but in truth, that’s just the year the authorities finally caught up with Magnus and gave him the choice to start paying taxes or to go to jail. Regardless, whisky was certainly being made long before that.
With the exception of the bootlegging operation, today very little has changed and Highland Park whisky is still made the same traditional way, but by a new generation of modern Viking souls.
Highland Park is the only single malt produced in Scotland that’s still made in the traditional way, with all five keystones of production remaining the same:
1. Long winters, cool maturation
What sets Highland Park whisky apart from other whiskies has a lot to do with where it’s made. Although the winters are ruthless and somewhat eternal the climate is temperate, making it perfect for long, cool and evenly placed maturation in the island warehouse.
2. Hand cut peat
For over 220 years, barley has been smoked over 4,000-year-old peat, that is hand-cut from the nearby Hobbister Moor. The dense, heather-rich peat burns slowly, with an astonishing intensity to create a complex floral aroma in the kilns and is the origin of the intensely balanced, smoky sweetness found only in Highland Park. Simply put, the peat doesn’t compare to any other distillery in the world.
3. Hand turned floor maltings
Highland Park is one of only a handful of distilleries to still turn malt by hand. As barley produces a substantial amount of heat as it malts, it’s turned by hand rather than machine every eight hours, seven days a week. This prevents it from overheating and ensures that it’s able to absorb the aromas given off by the peat. The company even proudly states that their ‘new’ kiln is 100 years old, and there are no plans to replace it.
4. Sherry Oak casks – the Viking way
The casks are what the longboats were for the Vikings and contribute up to 60 percent of the final flavour. Carefully selected from European and American oak trees, they are made in the traditional manner. Flavours such as vanilla, lemon and coconut come from American oak while the oak sourced in Europe provides nuances of dried fruits, orange and spice. Thanks to the quality of the sherry-seasoned casks, the golden colour of the spirit is all natural.
5. Cask harmonisation
Creating a balanced whiskey requires time and skill, however creating the distinctive balance also requires harmonisation. Every cask is nosed and tasted by the master whisky maker who decides which casks will be used. For every batch released, up to 150 casks are selected and combined and then left to rest so that the different flavours settle and harmonise resulting in a richer, deeper taste. For older expressions even fewer casks are combined.
The Viking Heroes
The heroes of Highland Park are all presented in beautifully designed bottles and packaging featuring decorative emblems inspired by ancient Viking art:
Highland Park 18 Year Old Viking Pride
This aptly named single malt owes everything to the 5 keystones of production that have been honoured for over 220 years. The high ratio of first-fill sherry seasoned European and American oak casks selected to create this 18 Year Old give it a unique flavour profile bursting of overripe cherries, bitter dark chocolate, sweet marzipan, floral heather honey and aromatic peat smoke.
Highland Park 12 Year Old Viking Honour
Predominantly aged in sherry seasoned European and American oak casks, the 12 Year Old boasts warm wintery spices and is the perfect balance of smoky sweetness, heather honey, rich fruitcake, spice, orange and peat flavours.
10 Year Old Viking Scars
Matured in sherry seasoned European and American oak casks, the 10 Year Old is a fistful of fallen oranges, dollops of vanilla cream and smoky heather peat.
The Viking ancestors believed that nothing in life should come easy. Whisky tastes better when you’ve earned it and victory tastes better when you put in the legwork.
Worthwhile things take time and they test your worth. It’s the painstaking result of hard work, sacrifice, and fierce dedication. It’s applying tough love and single-minded dedication to create distinctive single malts. It’s battling the elements and knowing tradition still defies convention. It’s digging out 4000 year-old peat moor one shovel at a time.
If you can appreciate that, then sit back and pour yourself a Highland Park and raise your glass to whats in it.
Available at leading bottles stores nationwide
Recommended retail prices:
10 Year Old Viking Scars R 449.99
12 Year Old Viking Honour R 549.99
18 Year Old Viking Pride R 1799.99