4 Jan
Orkney Islands Scotch distillery brings out the big guns


Hailing from the Orkney Islands, Highland Park is one of the finest Scotches available in the US — its 18-year consistently ranks along with Macallan 18-Year as the best in its class. Established in 1798, Highland Park is the most northerly Scotch distillery on the planet, and was voted “Best Spirit in the World” by liquor expert F. Paul Pacult — its 15, 18, 25, and 30-Year-Old vintages were also all prestigious Double Gold Medal winners at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. All that is to say, I was recently highly recommended a bottle so I bought an 18-year vintage for a friend’s birthday, and it was truly liquid gold — the oak well balanced with a delicate touch of Orkney’s famed aromatic peat.

With the above awards momentum in mind Highland Park has recently released several new limited edition vintages of its fine single malt Scotch. The two oldest are from 1964 and 1968 and dubbed The Orcadian Vintage Series, and will obviously be incredibly rare — the 1964 will be made from two hogshead oak casks, so only 290 bottles will be made (a rare few released per year), none available in the US, and will retail for £3,750.00 (about $6000 US). The 1968 Vintage is a vatting of eight casks, yielding 1550 bottles for a more thrifty £2,250.00 (about $3600 US). Both vintages come bottled in bespoke black glass, the box’s wooden door interior intricately illustrated with a mythical Sea Dragon. Highland Park’s Master Whisky Maker Max MacFarlane hand-selected casks based on their maturity and character, combined to ensure consistency and their trademark balance.

For those of us living in the real world, Highland Park also created the Earl Magnus Edition 1 (named after one of Orkney’s most famous Viking Earls). Limited to only 5,976 bottles, Earl Magnus is a traditional 15-year-old Scotch combined with some casks from the early 1990s to add even greater depth and a firmer structure. Its packaging is also beautifully ornate, bottled in a light brown glass offset with an archive-inspired label depicting the great Earl Magnus in a stained glass window. The bottle is presented in a simple open wooden gift box that allows the bottle to be displayed clearly, etched with the historic tale of the life Earl Magnus — a beloved ruler who met his fate at the hands of his plotting, cunning cousin Haakon.

Unfortunately Earl Magnus will not be imported into the US, but you can get your thirsty little fingers on it via their website for £85.00 (about $135.00 US).

The Earl Magnus Edition 1 Scotch


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