Highland Park Dark Origins

Over the past couple of years, I’ve really fallen in love with Highland Park. Like Bowmore and Talisker, this island whisky seems to walk just the right balance for me between cask influence (often lovely, sweeter sherried notes) and peaty kick.

And, you’ve got to give it to them: the folks over at HP do love a good tale.

With roots firmly in the Norse world of old, the heritage of the Orkney Islands is brimming with potential stories that the company is very good at grasping onto for use in its whisky-marketing (think Freya and the Warrior series).

The latest of these comes in the form of Dark Origins: a punchy release that hit shelves this past summer. The name comes from the practices of distillery founder Magnus Eunson who was, in fact, an illegal distiller and smuggler for much of his life back in the 1700s. While by day he also kept the peace as a church leader, it was under the cover of darkness that he worked on his true craft: whisky making.

This new expression has seriously upped the first-fill ex-sherry cask contribution (80% vs 40% in HP 12) so if you like that style on HP (or on whiskies in general) then you’re likely going to enjoy this one.

Here’s what I thought of it:

Dark Origins: 46.8%: £65:

(c): Honey

(n): Butterscotch and honey-roasted nuts – just a bit of campfire smoke, but nothing too intense. Notes of cinnamon, damp soil, something mildewy and a woodworking shop all make it seem richer.

(p): Quite punchy with notes of roasting logs and burning meat at first before it then eases into a wonderful, creamy, toffee note and even something floral. A richer, liquorice and grassy kick follows through at end. Warming across the whole palate – intense for the strength.

(f): Dry earth