Tag Archives: highland park

Highland Park Fire Review

Distiller: Highland Park. Region: Highlands/Islands. ABV: 45.2%. Age: 15 years. Price: $300.

I’m always a sucker for a good whisk(e)y story, especially when it comes from a distillery I’ve loved for pretty much my entire whisky drinking life. Highland Park, on the remote Orkney Islands of Scotland (long a bucket list destination), has delved fully into the Viking heritage of that part of the British Isles with a series of special bottlings.

Several months ago, I sampled their Ice, named after the mythical Viking Ice Giants. More recently, the distillery was gracious enough to send a sample of the next release in this vein, the Highland Park Fire Edition.

A limited release of 28,000 bottles, the Fire is intended to honor the Fire Giants, foremost of whom was Surtr, who, in mythology, destroyed the world in Ragnarok. So, the main question: is this whisky worthy of a world-destroying giant?

In two words: Hell. Yes. Unlike most of the distillery’s products, the 15-year-old Fire was barreled not in the traditional sherry casks, but in a 100% refill port wine-seasoned cask. Now, mind you, I’ve always enjoyed the Highland Park, but the port has opened worlds to me.

The nose has hints of cinnamon, as you’d expect from the bottle, but also lovely and nutty dark chocolate, a flowing and mellow vanilla, and something reminiscent of the tail end of a hog roast. The palate just sings. More pronounced vanilla, to be sure, but I adored the rich roasted coffee, along with orange rind, very slight plantain, and tobacco akin to a Cuban cigar I once enjoyed. The finish is perfectly sustained. It teeters on the brink of fiery, but never tilts harsh. Instead, what you get is an ending you’ll want to savor until the last elements are fully gone.

Now, at this price and limited availability, there’s no way that it can be a staple, but if you can find a bottle, grab it. It’s an infinitely rewarding whisky and one I plan to savor for years to come.

Slàinte, friends, and grab the sublime when you find it. – TM

Highland Park graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

Highland Park Dark Origins Review

Distiller: Highland Park. Region: Highland/Islands. ABV: 46.8%. No age statement. Price: $80.

The Dark Origins is a velvety no-age-statement dram from Highland Park that doubles the sherry cask influence of the standard 12, and is meant to replace the 15-year-old in the near future.

The release is matured 80% in first-fill sherry casks, 20% refill sherry. Needless to say, the sherry is strong with this one.

There’s light honeyed smoke on the nose, plus stewed and candied fruits. The palate adds loads of bitter orange, plus more oak tannins than the Highland Park usually brings. Dark chocolate and lingering smoke on the finish.

It’s a more substantial and interesting dram than the 12-year-old Highland Park, but it struck me as a bit unbalanced overall. It’s not cheap for an NAS, but sherry fans will want to check it out. I’ll be revisiting this one myself, but in the meantime I’ll be pouring myself another A’Bunadh.

Sláinte, friends! -BO

Highland Park Ice Review

Distillery: Highland Park. Region: Highlands/Islands. ABV: 53.9%. Age: 17 years. Price: $300.

I’m always intrigued when familiar whisk(e)y friends take a stab at something new. One of my perennial must-haves is the Highland Park 12, a whisky that easily ranks in my top 10. So when the good folks at the Orkney distillery offered to send a sample of their special release Ice, I was thrilled to have the chance to try it.

Highland Park’s new whisky continues the distillery’s celebration of Orkney’s viking past. The release is inspired by the Norse ice realm, Niflheim, a land of frost and darkness. But there’s nothing remotely cold about this drink.

I caught pine and heather on the nose, but tropical mango too. The palate was pretty much perfect. Peat and grilled lemon mingle with vanilla, and they all get along with the clove notes just fine. The finish is terrifically sustained, and if you add a bit of water, you’ll coax a touch of espresso out too.

Not one I can afford every day, but a lovely one to have tried. Cheers, friends! – TM

Highland Park 16 Review

Distiller: Highland Park. ABV: 40%. Age: 16 years. Price: $120 (1L).

Highland Park has released a number of travel retail exclusives over the years, and as an HP collector I’m always on the hunt for them when traveling. I picked up this 16 year old awhile back before it was discontinued.

Citrus and light floral notes are on the nose. Subtle sherry sweetness and dried wood notes combine with light smoke on the palate. Its finish is somewhat short with faint sweetness and peat.

I’m glad I bought this bottle, though I prefer the 2001 vintage travel retail release over it.

Cheers! – JTR

Buy Highland Park whisky online at Mash + Grape

Highland Park Harald Review

Distiller: Highland Park. ABV 40%. No age statement. Region: Islands. Price: $90-100.

Highland Park’s a first-rate distiller, Scotland’s northernmost, and one of just two distilleries on the Orkney Islands. Their 12-year-old is an excellent introduction to single malt for the uninitiated, and 18-year-old is the nectar of the gods.

Then there’s the Harald. This Duty Free-only release from their Warrior Series struck me as thin, raw, underpowered, and muddled. There are hints of familiar Highland Park flavors–baked apple, baking spice, and light peat–but they’re barely detectable at such a low ABV (40%). Which, at this price point, I find a bit baffling.

It’s the mixed blessing of the no-age-statement trend. You get home runs like the Aberlour A’Bunadh, then dribblers that go foul of the third base line.

When it comes to HIghland Park, at least, I’ll be sticking to the standard age-statement releases. – BO

Buy Highland Park whisky online at Mash + Grape