HIGHLAND PARK LAUNCHES DARK ORIGINS SINGLE MALT
By Michael Hepworth
Highland Park Scotch Whisky has a rich heritage from its home base in Orkney where it is one of the few distilleries in the farthest Northern outpost of the British Isles. The new Dark Origins expression is inspired by the tenacity and fortitude of the Highland Park founder Magnus Eunson. Legend has it that the distiller was a Scottish version of a ‘bootlegger” over 216 years ago in Orkney avoiding the hated tax collector as he distilled his dark whisky for the people. During daylight hours he provided spiritual salvation in his church, and at night he was a secret distiller.
Today Highland Park is a respected brand worldwide, and the new DARK ORIGINS has an ABV of 46.8%, and it uses twice as many first fill sherry casks than the Highland Park 12 Year old. Highland Park is one of the few distilleries not using distiller’s caramel and the dark color derives from the interreaction between the cask and spirit.
RICH JOURNEY got the chance to taste Dark Origins at a private preview event at the Varnish bar in downtown Los Angeles where brand ambassador Martin Daraz was present to launch the brand to a cache of the top spirits writers in Los Angeles. This stuff is strong as well as being extremely complex, and as the evening wore on some of the writers ha trouble understanding the thick Glaswegian accent of Daraz. Luckily they provided a ride to and from the event.
The distillery in Orkney is located at Kirkwall and was actually founded in 1798. It is the northern most distillery in Scotland and if you ever make it to the remote location, then a visit to the Highland Park set up is a must. Awards are commonplace for Highland Park, especially the 25 year single malt that won double gold at the San Francisco Spirits Competition in 2007 and 2009. Whisky expert Michael Jackson was a huge fan of Highland Park, and in 1984 ‘The Scotsman’ newspaper gave it a rating of 100% at the ‘Ultimate Spirits Challenge.’ It is still one of the few distilleries in the world that malts its own barley, and the peat is collected from the nearby Hobbister Moor, which is then mixed with heather.
Nose: Sherried Spice and Ripe Bananas combined with Toasted Hazelnuts and Baked Apple
Palate: Well Balanced Dry Peat at first mellowing out to Maraschino Cherries and Warm Dark Chocolate.
Finish: Enduring Sweet Smoke