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Luxury Brands - Highland Park

Ten miles from the Northernmost reaches of the Scottish mainland lie the 70 (or so) Islands that make up Orkney, 20 of these are in fact inhabited. The islands are be remote and the weather is very wild however the climate is temperate and the people are creative and which makes it the perfect place for making Highland Park whisky.

Highland Park has been distilled in Kirkwell since 1798, on the exact same site where their founder Magnus Eunson set up his illegal still at High Park. The distillery lies almost in the Arctic Circle and it is in fact closer to Oslo than London however they are divided by miles of stormy water. You can see the distillery from all over the town, which surrounds the 23 warehouses and 2 pagoda-topped kilns.

The two kilns are used to dry out the malted barley (which is still hand turned) over slow-burning hand-cut peat from the local area. Highland park considers tradition to be very important as they believe if you make award winning whisky, you have to appreciate that tradition defies convention.

The still house has four stills, two wash stills and two spirit stills. These were made by a renowned still-maker in Speyside called Forsyth’s, due to the need for perfection Highland Park insisted on having windows installed so they could see the liquid boiling inside. 

Highland Park has five keystones of whisky production, first is hand-turned malting floors. In keeping with the old traditions, hand turning malt is a dying skill however Highland Park doesn’t change a successful formula which is why they are one of only a handful of distilleries to still turn the malt every eight hours, seven days a week to maintain a constant airflow and the right amount of moisture to fully absorb the aromatic smoke.

The second Keystone is the aromatic peat from Hobbister Moor, the peat is unique and vital to the flavours of Highland Park. The moor lies only seven miles away from the distillery where the peat, in places being over 9,000 years old, is hand cut before burning it in the kilns.

The third keystone is the sherry seasoned oak casks. These contribute up to 60% of the whisky’s final flavour, so Highland Park insists on the finest quality casks for maturation not just for finishing.

The fourth keystone is Cool Maturation. To mature whisky to perfection you need time, a lot of patience and a very cold winter. The cold winter helps to give the whisky its long, cool and evenly paced maturation in the warehouses.

The fifth and final keystone is cask harmonisation. To create the complex flavours that Highland Park are known for takes time and skill. Gordon Motion is the master whisky maker and he selects up to 150 casks and leaves the whisky to rest for at least a month before bottling. Most distilleries will find this extravagant however Highland Park think it’s necessary to create the flavours. During the rest period it gives the flavours a chance to harmonise and combine with the different casks characteristics.

All of these keystones come together to create the amazing whisky known as Highland Park. With a vast array of whiskies for you to try Highland Park are proud of their heritage and it is seen in their whisky. The 12 year old viking honour is a tribute to their Orkney home which at one point belonged to the viking kingdom. The 15 year old fire and ice special editions are a two part series to celebrate some of the myths and legends from the viking age.

Click here to view the luxury brand Highland Park

Written by Oliver Partington