Highland Park Tasting


Keep it simple. This is the main point I have taken from a tasting with Gerry Tosh from Highland Park. So let’s keep it simple.

Interesting Unique Points to Highland Park

Orkney Peat is more aromatic than Islay Peat, creating a less smokey and sweeter whisky.

All casks seasoned with Olorosso sherry. American White Oak and Spanish Red Oak.

Natural Colour.

2.4 Million litres a year, so not the biggest of distilleries.

Awarded ‘Best Spirit in the World’ By Paul Pacult. One of the reasons was for the uncanny ability to dry your mouth and then moisten it apparently.

Most Memorable things from this tasting

Highland Park 25 with Haagen Daas Ice-cream and Highland Park 18 with steak. Mmmmm.

Gerry Tosh’s ability to down a pint of the Fermenting Ale and keep it down for 22 minutes.

On Orkney, they say Skol, rather than Slainte Mhath!

Don’t add caramel to Single Malt Whisky. Just spend lots on the best casks. That’s you told!

Orkney looks awesome!

Overall: I thoroughly enjoyed my tasting with Gerry. A very entertaining man to listen to, made all the better by drinking some fine Highland Park. We tried the 12, 18 and 25. All brilliant although I have to admit, I have gone off the 12 a bit recently. I think it is because the 18 is so good, I would just rather buy that!




  1. the 18 Is an amazing dram and great value.
    going for the 25,21,30 combo soon.

  2. Are you really suggesting that Highland Park don’t colour at all? I was under the impression that if one waters the whisky down as far as 40% it is was pretty much essential to colour it in order to make look like whisky again. The only exeception I can think of would if your spirit was exceptionally dark (really really dark) to begin with.

  3. I have only good things to say about Highland Park and Orkney. I visited in early May and the weather was unkind, shall we say. Nevertheless, it was worth the miles, moistness and crossing of the Pentland Firth to visit the distillery. It is a simply superb tour with an uncommon level of professionalism. I was fascinated to learn that Highland Park’s wood policy is the most stringent and expensive in the industry. I had always assumed Glenmorangie boasted this distinction but evidentally they just shout about their own cask arrangements the loudest. A peerless tour (with further upgrades to the standard tour available), an enthralling place and some very tasty produce. This was my most rewarding distillery experience during six weeks of exploring Scotland.

  4. Hi there,

    with the change to the elexir peddler bottle HP ended the practice of colouring the 12 yo. It had been the only HP that was artificially coloured for some time.

    Did you by chance talk about the use of dried heather during kilning the malt? The question has arisen in one or two forums if what Barnard wrote about the malt HP makes is still true.


  5. Hi Kallaskander,

    This article on Gavin D Smith’s blog may be of interest to you:

    When I toured the distillery, peat and coke were listed as the fuels used for kilning. However, the addition of heather to the peat fires was not explicitly mentioned and nor could I find any evidence beside the kilns. My guide simply said that Orkney’s peat is principally composed of heather.

    Interestingly, when I was at Edradour (also cited in the above article), the guide described how heather is added when drying their malt so the technique does appear to be practised.

  6. I think I am gonna email the folks at Highland Park. There were quite alot of questions on Twitter, and quite afew more enquiries including your enquiry Kallaskander. I will publish the response.

  7. Natural Colour Pah!
    The 12yr is loaded with caramel colouring, don’t you taste it?
    Maybe that is why you have gone off it!
    -critic from across the sea

  8. I never would have gotten the notion at things this way.
    This is going to make my morning a whole lot easier.

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