Highland Park is so northerly is may as well be Norway. In fact the distillery has a habit of calling many of their malts after the Norse gods, so they’re more than half way there!
They are also one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, dating all the way back to 1798. For them, distilling is not just a day job, it is a tradition, almost like a burden they are obligated but all too happy to carry.
This is understandable considering the how close the distillery is to the arctic circle. You would have to be passionate about the Whisky to bear those winter winds! Either that or just really love snow!
Highland Park has an impressive, award-winning range. Their 18 Year Old in particular is a damn fine malt.
This is a member of their core expressions range and has all the bet characteristics of Highland Park malt.
The nose opens with lots of rich smoke and charred barrels. The wood is especially present and offers a wonderful oaky tang.
This has a delicate sweetness to it, with a hint of vanilla and cinnamon. The vanilla becomes quite honeyed as it develops, giving the dram depth and a creamy note.
The smoke itself is somewhat floral, with an easy going nature and a rose petal gentleness. Instead of a heavy burning bonfire, you get a bouquet of flowers lightly flickering away.
But do not be deceived. On the palate the smoke grows and blossoms into a full-bodied and completely satisfying blaze.
It is accompanied by lemons and oranges to give it a nice zesty flavour.
The mouth feel is creamy and smooth, recalling the honey and vanilla of the nose. These become darker and richer in tone, becoming more refined. This gives a subtle edge to the sweetness.
There is also a well-developed spice on the palate that adds a comforting warmth to the smoky haze. It is no wonder Highland Park distillers can bear the cold if they have this on hand to warm them up!
The finish is mouth wateringly sweet, and ends after a decent linger with one last kick of peat smoke.