When one imagines the Scottish Highlands, most think of misty, windswept landscapes, rocky mountain ranges and of course, Scotch whisky. What people don’t know is that there were once Viking settlements in Orkney (home of famed whisky maker Highland Park) and the Shetland Islands, which were part of the Scandinavian kingdom until 1468.
Nearly the northernmost point in Scotland, Orkney is not the easiest place to live. The climate can be harsh, reaching only 16 degrees in the summer and lows of 2 degrees in the winter, in a place where few trees are left due to the wild winds. Home to one of the most remote whisky distilleries in the world, this landscape lends an “aromatic peat” that gives Highland Park whisky its distinctive, smoky-sweet flavour.
To honour their Viking heritage, and in a nod to the history and people of the Nordic region’s rugged climate and landscape, Highland Park is launching three of their latest whiskies in Hong Kong called The Light, The Dark and FULL VOLUME. At a recent press event, we found the easy-drinking single malt whiskies to be full of flavour and individual character.
The Light celebrates spring and summer in Orkney and was crafted in honour of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Considering the many long days of darkness in the area for the majority of the year, the summer solstice was considered a day to truly rejoice in Orkney during Viking times. A bit of a departure from the distinctive, deeper, full-bodied peaty whiskeys which Highland Park is known for, The Light was our favourite of the three for its approachable yet deceptively light, bright colour, with notes of vanilla, citrus, spice and honey. Aged 17 years in second-fill American oak casks, don’t let the light colour fool you, as it still delivers a whopping 52.9% ABV.
The Dark is a celebration of autumn and winter in Orkney and is a more typical representation of the typical Highland Park flavour profile. Also aged 17 years but in European oak sherry seasoned casks, you can taste the richness of the sherry ageing in the deep flavours and sweetness with notes of pear, nutmeg and vanilla. With a longer finish than The Light, this one also clocks in at 52.9% ABV, but the deliciously sweet tinge and sherry aromas balance out the high alcohol content.
For lovers of music and peaty whiskeys, FULL VOLUME offers both — a light, peaty aromatic whisky balanced with notes of cedar wood and tropical fruit including pineapple. Inspired by the skill and craftsmanship of music producers, Highland’s Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion combined 481 individual cask types to create the ideal whisky flavour — similar to how a piece of music is made by balancing notes. With a finish of citrus, vanilla and some light smoke, this blend is 47.2% ABV but with an unexpectedly light and bright colour for the depth of the peat. Already available in Hong Kong in limited quantities (retail price is HK$784), it’s being re-released along with the others in this current launch.
For those who really want to live the experience and listen to the synergy of music while tasting the whisky, you can tune into the dedicated song written for FULL VOLUME. Inspired by old-fashioned guitar amplifiers, the packaging also features dials on the side to note the different measures of bourbon, peat, vanilla and fruit flavours which make it a fun gift for the whiskey lover in your life.