One of the Scottish Islands' best-loved distilleries, Highland Park has been an icon of its Orkney home since its founding in the town of Kirkwall in 1826. Today, its new releases are always sought-after, but so too are its bottlings from days gone by, which allow collectors to experience the evolution of Highland Park’s distinctive maritime smoke and heather honey character from its early history to the present day.
The modern Highland Park 12 Year Old remains a benchmark single malt, but subtle variations in production over the years have made historical bottlings a hit with collectors. To illustrate the way this classic single malt has developed, we’ve brought together three exceptional 12 Year Olds from the 1980s and 1990s. Together, they offer a rare glimpse of how whisky making on Orkney varied as the industry reached the cusp of the modern single malt boom.
Many great whiskies of the 1990s were underappreciated when they were first bottled, with some only now gaining the recognition they deserve. Contemporary bottlings of single malts distilled in the 1960s, 70s and 80s rightly command serious price tags, but these older bottlings of Highland Park offer an excellent way to discover absolutely exquisite (and occasionally overlooked) whiskies.
Of course, for those looking for truly exceptional whiskies from Highland Park, there are plenty of long-aged and rare expressions to dive in to. Among them are these vintage bottlings from 1974, 1958 and 1956, also bottled in the 1990s – offering among the most memorable drams you’re likely to find from the island, and ones that encapsulate historic eras of distilling and bottling.
The above expressions offer a few snapshots of Highland Park through the decades, with plenty more intriguing and esoteric bottlings available to explore. With pockets of exceptional old and rare malts available for those who know where to look, it’s no wonder that previous releases from the distillery are a consistent favourite for both new and established collectors.