Situated on the Orkney Islands to the west of Kirkwall, Highland Park is the most northerly distillery in the World. It was founded by Magnus Eunson in the late 18th century, one of many Orcadian smugglers and illicit Whisky producers who rebelled against the heavy excise duties imposed to finance the war with Napoleon. It is said that he used his position as church officer to conceal Whisky beneath the church pulpit.
The distillery was licensed in 1826 by Robert Borwick, whose son-in-law, the local Exciseman John Robertson, is generally credited with routing out the smugglers. Highland Park is one of the few distilleries to use hard water. Also unusual is the use of traditional floor maltings for germinating the barley, which is then dried over a fire of local aromatic heather peat. This is the source of the heathery smokiness that is characteristic of the Highland Park Whisky.
Whisky from Highland Park is released as Single Malts as well as sent over to Famous Grouse for blending. The core range of Highland Park is composed of 12, 18, 21, 25, 30, 40, 50 year old Whiskies, and a Dark Origins bottling.
Whiskies are generally peat-dominated with fruit and spice notes coming from the Sherry casks with coastal notes.
What kind of Scotch is Highland Park?
The name of the distillery does not refer to the area of Scotland known as The Highlands, but rather to the fact that the distillery was founded on an area called 'High Park' distinguished from a lower area nearby. Highland Park is the most northern distillery in Scotland, located on the Orkney Islands. Their range of Whiskies have signature notes of peat and sea breeze dominated with fruit and spice notes imparted from the Sherry casks.
Highland Park is the most northern distillery in Scotland, located on Orkney Island.
Orkney was the home to illicit distillation in the late 1700s, so it is almost impossible to give an exact date for its founding. However, it is believed that Highland Park Distillery was built in 1798.
Robert Borwick got the first legal license for the distillery in 1826. James Grant purchased the distillery in 1895 and increased the production.
In 1937, the Highland Distillers Co. bought the distillery, and in 1979 they decided to release single malts instead of giving the malt away for blending. This was a turning point in the history of the distillery. In 1999, Edrington Group took over the distillery and it continued to improve.
Cattie Maggie's Spring in Orkney is the main water source for the Whisky. The wash stills in the distillery have a capacity of 20,000 liters, while the spirit stills have a capacity of 18,000 liters.
Highland Park is still partially using the floor malting procedure for their peated barley, which is peated by the peat collected from the Hobbister Moor.
The distillery has 26 warehouses, in a climate that is never too cold or too hot, creating a perfect medium for maturing the Whisky. Highland Park seasons the casks with dry Oloroso Sherry oak, making the Whisky more fruity and spicy.
The Orkney Islands cling to the edge of the northernmost coast of Scotland. To the east lies Norway and to the west, thousands of miles away, Newfoundland. The [inaudible 00:00:44], Druids, and Vikings all settled in Orkney over the last 5,000 years. Little has changed here. This is our home, the home of Highland Park, the best spirit in the world.
Three elements combine to make all single malt scotch Whisky: water, barley, and yeast. For over 200 years, we've distilled Highland Park in the traditional way. Our obsession with quality and consistency has made us the most respected single malt Whisky in the world.
We are one of only a handful of distilleries who have retained the traditional floor maltings. The skilled hands and strong backs of our maltmen guarantee our barley is as flawless today as it's been since 1798.
The ever present winds that lash the bleak moorland of Hobbister ensure that no trees survive here. However, the resilient Scottish heather manages to hold on.
Over thousands of years, a uniquely aromatic peat has formed on this treeless hillside. Cut by hand in the spring and left to dry naturally in the moorland winds, the heather peat holds the secret to the legendary sweet smoky character of Highland Park.
A further element is needed to unlock the heather-honey sweetness buried within our peat and to dry the malted barley wheat in high above in the pagoda roof. That element is fire.
In Andalusia, southern Spain, the fires of the ancient Tevasa Cooperage are harnessed to craft the finest quality casks from both European and American oak.
Having been lovingly seasoned for at least two years with the highest quality Oloroso Sherry, the empty casks make the arduous two and a half thousand miles sea journey north to Highland Park.
New made spirit from our Copa Port stills is filled into these casks to begin the magical process of even-paced maturation.
Our Whisky matures in Sherry oak casks, sleeping peacefully in the stone warehouses that encircle the distillery. The casks impart a naturally rich amber color to our Whisky during a gentle maturation period of at least 12 years.
Now is the hardest part, the waiting. Two centuries of traditional Whisky making, unchanged floor maltings, unique aromatic peat, finest Sherry seasoned casks, and evenly paced maturation.
Together they create Highland Park, the spirit of Orkney. The best spirit in the world.