Established in 1798 on Orkney, Highland Park is one of the most remote Scotch whisky distilleries in the world. This northerly island location gives access to unique heather peat from the distillery's own moor, water from the same spring that has fed the distillery for more than 200 years, and the cool, maritime climate that allows the spirit to interact gently with the carefully-chosen oak casks and develop into the fabulously rich, layered whisky that is consistently lauded by connoisseurs and experts.
Distilling has a long and illustrious history on Orkney, an archipelago of some 70 islands, characterised by rich pastures, heathery peat and strong sea winds. It has a unique, temperate climate that differs significantly from that of mainland Scotland. Highland Park was founded in 1798, on a rise above Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital. Legend has it that Highland Park was founded by Magnus Eunson, a preacher by day and an illicit distiller by night.
Twenty years later, Highland Park was a respectable business,and today it continues to produce outstanding single malt whiskies crafted in the traditional way.
"There is honesty in Highland Park. A form of elemental higher truth exists in every glass. It’s not about fashion, trends or bandwagons. There are no immature expressions of Highland Park and no accelerated maturation programmes. It is made today with the same enduring belief and integrity, to the same exacting standards, as it has always been.
The established attitude at Highland Park is one of custodianship rather than management, of tradition rather than novelty. That’s not to say the distillery is stuck in the mud – far from it – but innovation is only used when there is a genuine benefit to the whisky not, as is often the way, a benefit to efficiency or profitability.
This approach accounts in some way for the appeal of Highland Park; there is much more to how the remote site of an illicit still became 'The Best Spirit in the World*'. This accolade was no fluke; it was based on an unbroken tradition of whisky-making stretching back at Highland Park to 1798. Highland Park is arguably the most respected single malt in the world. As everyone knows, respect has to be earned. More than 200 years of distilling tradition, attention to detail and honesty at Highland Park has achieved just that.
Orkney is unique; the Viking influence means it has always been an extraordinarily diverse place. The history of Scotland is not the history of the Orkneys. The Orcadians are proud of Highland Park whisky as it forms a part of their heritage.
The rich, succulent, complexity of this exceptional single malt inspires passion in single malt enthusiasts everywhere. It has balance, character and provenance and, in that, epitomises all that is great about single malt Scotch whisky." Russell Anderson, Distillery Manager, Kirkwall
*F. Paul Pacult, Top 110 Spirits, Spirit Journal June 2005
Total quality commitment, including the use of traditional floor maltings, complements Orkney’s finest raw materials.
The secrets of the master distillers at Highland Park are jealously guarded. While many other distilleries have rushed to modernise in recent years, Highland Park has retained traditional craftsman’s values, steadfastly refusing to cut corners for the sake of profit.
The distilling process has remained largely unchanged for 200 years. The distillery has its own floor maltings, producing malted barley in the traditional way. This allows close control of the quality of the malt in the crucial stage before mashing.
The malt is dried in kilns, fired with young, rooty, heathery peat cut from the distillery’s own lands at Hobbister. This smoky blend of rich peat and heather imbues the malt with its unique flavour and exquisite aroma.
The distillery continues to draw water from the Cattie Maggie spring on which it was founded.
Finally, the whisky is laid down in oak casks, to gently breathe the salt laden Orcadian air for a minimum of 12 years.
This painstaking craft and the observance of traditional methods, give Highland Park its unique rounded flavour, filled with heather-honey sweetness and a smooth, peaty smokiness.
Character and Style of Highland Park