The Perfect Fifth Highland Park 1987 #1531 31 Year Old Single Malt, 47.1% ABV
delightfully softened with phenols at the close.
The origins of Highland Park are obscured by myth; whether it was the site of Viking descendant Magnus Eunson’s illicit still, or built by farmer David Robertson, the distillery was officially founded in 1798. Orcadian peat is composed mainly of sphagnum moss and heather, resulting in a flavour profile very different from that of the mainland, more aromatic and fragrant. This influence is hugely apparent in this archetypal example of the distillery’s produce.
Cask no. 1531
Nose: Pretty near perfect HP for its age, and one of the best examples of the distillery of that era I have nosed for a very long time. Slightly above average peat for a HP, which works perfectly in its favour. The usual heather honey has been skewed slightly by the heady mix of tannins and peat. The saltiness is profound, the oak a rich, spicy backbone. The sweetness is subtle and still honeyed, but more now a blend of Manuka and orange blossom. Truly magnificent!
Taste: Scotland’s silkiest malt at its most silky. The bold smoke on arrival is caught in the velvet gloves of the lightly oiled barley sugar, a dark liquorice sweetness spreading as the oak makes its mark. The spices are prim, proper and just so, never moving out of their set orbit while the honey starts to make its long-awaited mark, bringing with it the light smoke; a quick surge of exotic fruit underlines the antiquity with aplomb.
Finish: Long, increasingly smoky with the spices still teasing and forging a beautiful duet with the molassed sugars; the oak beats out an aged pulse but the phenols return to soften as well and entertain.
Balance: This is a malt whiskey coming to the end of its life, like a star becomes a white dwarf before the end of its existence. In density is huge…and I mean gigantic. The oaks are about to explode…but the cask has been bottled in the nick of time where the balance is still near perfect. Fine margins…for a very fine whiskey.
- JIM MURRAY’S WHISKY BIBLE 2020
Region: Orkney Islands
Orkney is the most northerly of Scotland's whiskey-producing regions. Sometimes considered a part of the Highlands region, the archipelago of some 70 islands is found just off the northern tip of Scotland, in the cold waters of the North Sea. Only two distilleries are located in the islands, and they produce whiskeys that are full-bodied and balanced, with smoky, salty characters.
About the Distillery
Highland Park distillery is the northernmost single malt Scotch whiskey distillery in the world, located on the Orkney Islands off the far north coast of Scotland, where the Atlantic Ocean turns into the North Sea. The name of the distillery does not refer to the area of Scotland known as The Highlands, but rather to the fact that the distillery was founded on an area called 'High Park' distinguished from a lower area nearby. The origins of Highland Park are obscured by myth; whether it was the site of Viking descendant Magnus Eunson’s illicit still, or built by farmer David Robertson, the distillery was officially founded in 1798. Highland Park is considered by whiskey insiders one of the greatest single malts in the world.