A four-dram trip to Orkney

SLTN and Edrington UK host online tasting of Highland Park

BAR operators and staff from across Scotland took a virtual trip to Orkney this month for a Burns’ Night celebration with SLTN and Edrington UK.

In the latest of the SLTN Trade Tastings, Edrington UK whisky specialist, Teddy Joseph, took attendees on a tour of Highland Park’s core range of single malt.

Participants learned about the six-year journey taken by Highland Park’s casks, which begins with the team selecting trees to be felled, before the wood is dried, cut into staves and sent to Spain, where it is coopered into casks and seasoned with Oloroso sherry, before being shipped to Highland Park distillery on Orkney.

“It’s a long journey,” said Joseph, “But we believe it’s worth it to deliver the flavour and the colour (of the whisky).”

Describing Highland Park 12 as “a great introduction to the brand”, Joseph highlighted notes of sweet heather honey and spice on the nose before the whisky brought flavours of citrus, orange zest and aromatic peat smoke.

The dram was paired with haggis and cracked black pepper crisps.

Highland Park 15 was next up, paired with emmental cheese bites.

Matured in a combination of sherry-seasoned American and European oak, the whisky was described as having bright citrus, apple and vanilla sponge on the nose before delivering flavours of dried pineapple, vanilla and lemon citrus.

The third dram, Highland Park Cask Strength, gave attendees the chance to try the second release of the distillery’s cask strength expression. The 63.9% ABV whisky was paired with praline chocolates.

“Our first release was leaning towards American sherry-seasoned casks,” said Joseph.

“This one uses a combination of first-fill European oak, first-fill American oak, some refill casks. There’s a lot of balance in there.”

The whisky was described as having “an intense hit of lovely, decadent chocolate” on the nose, with nuttiness emerging with the addition of water. Joseph identified flavours including dry spice and dark bitter chocolate.

The session concluded with a Maple Old Fashioned featuring Highland Park 18 year old.

The cocktail had been chosen to accentuate the cherry, dark chocolate and nutty flavours present in the whisky.

“The Old Fashioned is one of the most popular cocktails in the world,” said Joseph. “One of the oldest cocktails in the world.

“And it is the perfect vehicle to really accentuate the flavours in a spirit.”