Tasting the Highland Park 15 Year Old Viking Heart, the heather-rich peat expression with sweet-smoky flavours come through with a euphoric harmony.

Award-winning Orkney based distillery, Highland Park, launches a new, permanent 15 Year Old single malt Scotch Whisky — the Highland Park 15 Year Old Viking Heart, which will be available globally from mid-September 2021.

Bottled in a heavily embossed ceramic decanter, the ivory white bottle is inspired by ancient earthenware vessels which the whisky would have been stored a century or two ago at the distillery. The bottle, created in partnership with renowned UK-based Wade Ceramics, is brought to life in an antique finish, carrying with it the emblematic Viking soul through powerful coat of arms embossed around the bottle.

Highland Park’s Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion created the 15 Year Old using hand-selected casks. The new single malt contains a high percentage of first-fill European oak sherry seasoned cask, which delivers a warm, dry spicy note whilst the first-fill American oak sherry seasoned casks introduce the sweet nuances of vanilla and crème brûlée on the nose. A small amount of refill casks also allow the DNA of Highland Park whisky to shine through — delicate heather-rich peat and subtle fruity character.

“Our insistence on specially constructed sherry casks delivers a richness of flavour. Vanilla and citrus notes lead and combine with the unique fragrant peat and creamy mouthfeel synonymous with Highland Park. The hand selection of quality first-fill and refill casks for Highland Park 15 Year Old delivers a rich colour which is 100% natural,” iterates Motion.

When poured into a Glencairn whisky glass, the light golden liquid is bright and clear thanks to its naturally cask-driven colour. On the palate, it is complex and rich. Aromas of charred cinnamon shards, fresh pineapple and warm vanilla sponge cake come together with the mellow smoke from Orkney’s unique heather peat — creating the signature heather-honey peat that Highland Park is known for. A light citrus-peel, lemony aftertaste comes through almost instantly, offering a complex yet nuanced finish that lingers with a gentle aromatic yet fruity peatiness.

However, it is not just about the finest sherry seasoned oak casks that influence the whisky. The salty sea winds that batter Orkney’s suggest coastlines, the intensely floral character of the treeless yet heather-rich peat, and the raging independent Viking spirit that drive the makers to create a unique complexity of sweet-smoky expressions unique to the Highland Park. This euphoria is what the makers at Highland Park would describe as ‘A Wild Harmony’, the unique taste that can only be found in Orkney since 1798.

At the Highland Park distillery in Orkney.

Where it all began

Orkney is located 16km from the northernmost reaches of the Scottish mainland. Perched in a remote and windswept point, the Highland Park distillery lies almost in the Arctic Circle, closely similar as Anchorage, Alaska. The climate here is surprisingly temperate, ranging from 2-degree Celsius in winter and 16-degree Celsius in summer — creating the perfect environment for whisky-making, where a long and even-paced cool maturation takes place. 

A whisky crafted in the old way by a new generation of Vikings, the Highland Park 15 Year Old Viking Heart joins the core range of whiskies that shares the trademark flavour profile of ‘intensely balanced smokey sweetness’, each made with pride on Orkney. This includes the 12 Year Old Viking Honour, 18 Year Old Viking Pride, 25 Year Old, 30 Year Old, and 40 Year Old, as well as the special editions, Valkyrie, Valknut and Valfather — all named after legendary Viking warriors in Nordic history.

At 44% ABV, the new Highland Park 15 Year Old Viking Heart retains more of the compounds that offer a whisky with extra body and an elevated drinking experience.

Motion sums it up: “The 15 Year Old is gold.”

Find out more about the Highland Park 15 Year Old Viking Heart HERE.

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