Clouded by Orcadian mystery, even its origins are unclear, however it’s claimed that Highland Park has been up-and-running since the late eighteenth century, even if going by other names.
Of the two distilleries on the island of Orkney, it’s Highland Park that usually takes the spotlight. Not necessarily because it makes better whisky than its neighbor, Scapa, but certainly because it’s the more ‘muscular’ and memorable of the two.
Its spirit has a dry, smoky backbone, which comes from the use of peat during kilning of its barley, some of which is done at the distillery’s malting floor. Locally sourced peat is also used, lending distinct characteristics to the spirit. More smoky than medicinal, unlike some of its Islay contenders, Highland Park sits rather nicely in the middle of the mild-smoky spectrum, which some find irresistible.
Surrounding Highland Park’s smoky backbone is a distinctly fruity quality.
Both bourbon and sherry casks are utilized by the distillery, developing the whisky in vastly different ways, and expressions that are vattings of both cask types are quite common.