A Walk in the (Highland) Park

By / Wine + Drinks / August 24th, 2013 / 2

Sometimes you have to go a little off the beaten path to get something truly distinctive and unique. For instance, if it’s a truly distinctive and unique single malt scotch your after, you might want to travel to Scotland’s extreme northeastern tip…then keep going.

The Highland Park distillery, located on Orkney Island, is the country’s most northerly distillery. It also has a deserved reputation as being the producer of some of the most consistently outstanding drams right across its range of expressions.

The newly released Highland Park 10 Year Old Single Malt not only extends the distillery’s range further, but introduces a whisky that retains HP’s classic style (albeit in a slightly more delicate format) at an affordable entry point.

However, considering the distillery’s 12 Year Old expression is top notch and under $70.00, why the need for another that’s a few years younger and just under $60.00? Marc Laverdiere, Canadian Brand Ambassador (for both Highland Park and The Macallan), sheds some light.

“We found there was definitely room in our core range for an entry level Highland Park aged predominantly in American oak,” he contends. “It contains beautiful fresh citrus notes with some hints of sherry.  Priced at $59.95 it is bound to become a favourite for long time fans of Highland Park and new consumers alike!”

Laverdiere goes on to explain that the fresh fruit and smoky overtones would be masked if the spirit was aged in European oak. As well, the slightly lighter overall style takes well to bottling at 40 per cent alcohol – a lower level than that typically found in the traditional Highland Park expressions.

These are indeed interesting times for the Scotch malt whisky industry with worldwide demand spiking and supplies of old stock dwindling (read more about this in the upcoming December 2013 issue of Tidings). A distillery with Highland Park’s reputation is taking a bit of a chance in extending its core range in a younger direction. And it will indeed be interesting to see what the “judgment by the cognoscenti” decrees. In the meantime, tasters at Quench confirm that the new Highland Park 10 Year Old does indeed carry the distillery’s flag with dignity. Gentle smoke on the nose with nuances of malted barley, ginger, lemon oil, beeswax, polished wood and that certain je ne sai quois that seems to run right through the HP line. Citrus, mild peat, bread dough, toffee, and mild herbal notes in the mouth. Crisp and clean on the finish.

Photo credit: mil8


Tod Stewart is the contributing editor at Quench. He's an award-winning Toronto-based wine/spirits/food/travel/lifestyle writer with over 35 years industry experience. He has contributed to newspapers, periodicals, and trade publications and has acted as a consultant to the hospitality industry. No matter what the subject matter, he aims to write an entertaining read. His book, 'Where The Spirits Moved Me' is now available on Amazon and Apple.

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