Highland Park 25-year-old whisky debuts in Jacques Scott retail stores this month. We’re bringing the best of Scotland’s most northerly islands, the Orkney Isles, to the discerning drinkers of the Cayman Islands. This single-malt whisky was the first spirit in the world to be awarded a perfect 100-point score at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in March 2013. Why not ditch the hum-drum and taste a high-class dram from a very different island this week?
America’s foremost expert on spirits, F.Paul Pacult, named Highland Park the Best Spirit in the World in his review (Spirit Journal, 2013), saying it was the finest expression of distillation he had tasted. Standing head and shoulders above the rest of the field is no easy feat in the competitive world of whisky. Gerry Tosh, Global Marketing Manager for Highland Park, said: “To be the only ever recipient of the 100-point score in the history of the Ultimate Spirit Challenge is a great honour for Highland Park 25-year-old. We’re thrilled that the judges, all respected commentators in our industry, have selected Highland Park for this accolade in the presence of a strong array of competitors. The fact that Highland Park was also represented so strongly across the board is very significant and allows us to maintain our award-winning reputation.”
Highland Park prides itself on the Viking origins that forged Orkney’s proud, adventurous and fiercely independent spirit. It is the northernmost distillery in the world, defiantly rooted on a remote and treeless landscape, where the Atlantic Ocean crashes into the North Sea. Viking Earls ruled the isles until 1468 when King Christian 1 of Norway handed them back to Scotland. But Orcadians still have their own flag and feel strongly connected to their Viking forefathers. That’s why they say that each cask of Highland Park is crafted by modern-day Viking souls.
When exactly moonlighting Viking Magnus Eunson set up his first illicit still, we simply don’t know. Only that it was on the site of the Highland Park distillery you can visit today (https://www.highlandparkwhisky.com/distillery/ – and that authorities didn’t catch him until 1798. They finally granted a license to produce in 1826 and very little has changed in the process since then, save for legalities! The youngest kiln there is 100 years old. Aromatic peat, the core of which dates back 4,000 years, is still cut by hand on the nearby moor. It’s one of only 7 distilleries in the world that still hand-turns the malt to ensure an end goal of perfectly smoky overtones. The water is drawn from Cattie Maggie’s Spring next door. Cool maturation is assured by its unique home on the top of the globe. Cask harmonisation, ignored by many big-name brands, blends with centuries of knowledge to produce whisky’s that enliven the palates of both whisky connoisseurs and those new to taking a wee dram.
Highland Park 25-year-old has a higher ABV than many, preserving a bold personality yet remaining richly sweet and vibrant. Natural cask-driven rich golden colour means absolutely no additives. 25 years spent in a carefully selected and harmonised group of 20 casks enhances the flavour profile. This includes intense notes of buttery fudge, heather honey and warm vanilla over a broad spicy, dried fruity palate to balance the smoke, with just a tiny taste of salty sea spray. Not only does this mean the whisky satisfies when neat or with a dash of still spring water, but it works well when you want to mix a cocktail.
From one release to the next, the continuity of production throws up subtle differences; maybe a sense of chocolate one year, a spice or salt high note the next. The Master Whisky Maker, Gordon Motion, is happy to highlight and celebrate such little changes, a reflection of the honesty and character of the whisky and the devotees who make it. A good whisky is an experience, have yours with Highland Park.