An Ancient Spirit from the Orkneys

  • Richard Carleton Hacker

Highland Park is the northernmost distillery in Scotland, and its older single malts have become a cult favorite. In 2009 a limited release of its first 40-year-old whisky quickly sold out, and although scarce, it remains a part of the distillery’s annual line. Now comes the U.S. launch of the Orcadian Limited Edition Series—a five-year offering of vintage dated one-off, ultra-aged, single malts. The first, a 40-year-old 1968 Highland Park, was released in 2010. After four decades of aging in eight American and Spanish sherry casks, only 1,594 bottles were produced—even though the label states each is “1 of 1550.” Nonetheless, the 1968 Highland Park is scarce by any standard. Less than 100 bottles, priced at $3,999 each, have been allocated for United States.

The 1968 vintage is dramatically different from anything Highland Park has ever produced. The bouquet brims with sherry, toasted cedar, sweet violets, and cinnamon. The candied flavor is enhanced by a whiff of smoke and black cherry in the lengthy finish. By law, only the year of the youngest whisky can appear on the label. Thus, one can only imagine how many much-older spirits from this distillery reside within the golden-hued liquid contained in the distinctive black glass bottle. (www.highlandpark.co.uk)

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