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Founded in 1798 by smuggler Magnus Eunson, Highland Park is the northernmost whisky distillery in all of Scotland. Built near Kirkwall in an area known as High Park, the single malt produced there first appeared on the market in the 1970’s as an 8 year old. Later this was replaced with a 12 year old which has since become one of the most popular drams on the face of the planet. Indeed, it was a 12 year old Highland Park that first turned me on to whisky many moons ago.
It was the late 19th century before Highland Park really began to develop a name for itself. Under the ownership of William Stuart and his business partner James Grant, the distillery was twice expanded and a successful business relationship struck up with blenders Robertson & Baxter, helping to cement the reputation of the Highland Park spirit as a ‘character’ malt that could bolster any blend.
Today the distillery is owned by the Edrington group, with 10, 12, 18, 25, 30 and 40 year old expressions available alongside several special editions, usually named after various aspects of Norse mythology – a homage to the Viking roots of much of the population of Orkney.
This particular expression meanwhile comes from Gordon & MacPhail, an Elgin based retailer, independent bottler and owner of Benromach distillery. Aged for 8 years, it has been bottled at 43% abv and is available in the UK for around £30 – £35.
Smell: Fresh. Vanilla and Cream, Heather, Apple, Pear & Biscuit.
Taste: Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Oak, Biscuit, Pepper and subtle Smoke.
Value for Money: On the market for around £30 – £35. Very pleasant dram at that price.
Scores: 43.5 / 50.
For a malt whisky diluted to 43% abv, this is a really pleasant dram with ample character. For a very reasonable price, Gordon & MacPhail are able to offer a satisfying snapshot of Highland Park’s capability.