One would think that Highland Park whisky originates in the Highlands of Scotland. But, one would be wrong. In fact, the distillery is the northernmost located in the Orkney Islands. Highland Park also malts their own barley using a mix of local peat and heather. They have a small, but solid portfolio of aged whiskies. The latest is a tribute to a man many suppose founded the distillery, or at the very least smuggled it past the constant surveillance of excisemen. It is his portrait which is given artistic license as a mysterious hooded character on the bottle’s container.
His name was Magnus Eunson, and the following story about him made an appearance in an early tome about the whiskey trade “Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom” by Alfred Barnard written in 1887.
“Hearing that the Church was to be searched for whisky by a new party of excisemen, Eunson had all the kegs removed to his house, placed in the middle of an empty room and covered with a clean white cloth. As the officers approached after their unsuccessful search in the church, Eunson gathered all his people, including the maidservants, round the whisky, which, with its covering of white, under which a coffin lid had been placed, looked like a (funeral) bier. Eunson knelt at the head with the Bible in his hand and the others with their psalm books. As the door opened they set up a wail for the dead, and Eunson made a sign to the officers that it was a death and one of the attendants whispered “smallpox”. Immediately the officer and his men made off as fast as they could and left the smuggler for some time in peace.”
Highland Park Dark Origins (93.6 proof)
Visual: Yellowed gold.
Nose: Mild smokiness with a hefty dose of malted barley.
Taste: Quite smooth for such a high-proof. The initial impression is of sweet roasted grain, but is soon followed by a dose of smoke. The two flavors play tag over a few minutes, until the game fades leaving a dusky memory.
Finish: Medium long with a defined balance of malt and peat.
Overall: Slightly smokier than a blended whisky, but the same approachability. Perfect for a chilly Autumnal evening’s enjoyment.
GSN Rating: A-
For more information go to: Highland Park