Highland Park is located on the Orkney islands that lie to the north of the Scottish mainland. It is one of the oldest and best known whisky distilleries in Scotland and was established in 1798. It is currently owned by the Edrington Group, who use some of the scotch produced there in their popular Famous Grouse blend. Highland Park is the most northern distillery currently operating in Scotland and there are only two distilleries on the Orkneys, with Scapa being the other. Highland Park is regarded by whisky drinkers as a great all-rounder and the core range is extensive, covering different ages with the majority matured in sherry casks. Highland Park is one of the best selling whiskies in the world. The success comes as a result of them creating a spirit which is smoky but not to the degree of the majority of Islay whiskies. It is therefore more subtle and approachable and is a good whisky to try if you don't like too much smoky flavour. This 16 years old is exclusive to the duty free/travel retail sector and we picked up a bottle for a present on our recent trip to Australia.
The colour is a dark gold and the nose is very promising. There is an abundance of dried fruits (think of sultanas, raisins and candied peel) that mixes with some woody nuttiness and floral smokiness (this is acheived as they burn dried heather with the peat during the malting process). On the palate this is quite fruity (that dried fruit again) but is a bit drier and woodier than expected. The peatiness is light and fresh and mixes well with some spiciness (think of nutmeg or cinnamon), a touch of saltiness and nuts (imagine toasted almonds and coconut). The finish is quite short and dry with the smokiness and an interesting yeasty element prominent (think of a digestive biscuit). This is a good whisky that has an interesting complexity and costs around £45 a bottle (this is for a litre, as it is for the duty free/travel retail market). I certainly wouldn't complain if I received a bottle as a gift!