Highland Park is best known for two things: being the northernmost distillery in Scotland (it beats the Scapa distillery by a bit under a mile), and its Viking-themed lineup of single malt Scotch whiskies. Names like Valkyrie, Einar, Ragnvald, and Magnus abound throughout the range, imbuing the distillery with an almost mythical character. In other words, it’s the kind of whisky you could picture Frodo drinking late into the night with Tyrion Lannister.
Nordic imagery aside, the whisky is often delightful, relying heavily — but not exclusively — on sherry cask maturation, along with a smattering of other barrel types. This gives the usually lightly-peated whisky all of its color (no additives are used), as well as dried spice and fruit flavors that complement a palate full of vanilla and caramel. Of course, all of that is subject to the particular expression you’re tasting, and there are many, including two new limited edition bottles that were released over the past few months.
Twisted Tattoo ($100) is a 16-year-old single malt comprised of a marriage of whisky aged in two types of wood: 153 Spanish Rioja-seasoned casks laid down in May 2000, and 70 first-fill bourbon barrels laid down in October of 2001. According to the distillery, this is the first blend of these types of casks that it has released. Look for soft peat notes, along with strawberry, red wine, and cherry-vanilla on the palate. As you might expect from the name, there’s a body-art tie-in – the bottle’s design was created in collaboration with Danish tattoo artist Colin Dale, who was inspired by Nordic and Viking wood carvings like those depicting the legend of the Midgard serpent.
The other new release from Highland Park is called Søren Solkær 26 Years of Photography ($900). This is a 26-year-old single malt that comes with a 160-page book of photographs from Danish photographer Søren Solkær, who has shot musicians like Bjork, the White Stripes, and Franz Ferdinand as well as filmmakers and actors over the course of his, you guessed it, 26-year-long career. Solkær has also extensively photographed the Highland Park distillery. The whisky was aged in a combination of sherry-seasoned American oak and first-fill and refill bourbon barrels, giving it notes of cloves, cardamom, and raisin, per the distillery’s tasting notes. Only 1,206 bottles are available, 249 of which can be found here in the U.S.
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