Scorched pineapple, cinnamon shards, sun-kissed lemon zest, vanilla sponge cake... what sounds like a smorgasbord of desserts is actually the flavour profile of the new core range Highland Park 15 Year Old Viking Heart Single Malt Scotch whisky by Highland Park distillery.
it’s a unique myriad of flavours, even for a distillery that is already well-known for sweet peaty whiskies with smoky, honey flavours.
The reason for that is Highland Park Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion’s insistence on using specially constructed and personally hand-selected sherry casks to age the whisky.
“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,” he said in a press release.
“The hand selection of quality first-fill and refill casks for Highland Park 15 Year Old delivers a rich colour which is 100% natural. Bottled at 44% ABV, this retains more of the compounds which deliver a whisky with extra body and enhanced mouthfeel,” Motion adds.
Founded in 1798, Highland Park is one of the ten oldest working distilleries in Scotland. It is also the most northerly whisky distillery in Scotland, located in the city of Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands, just off the coast of the northernmost point of Scotland.
The Highland Park 15 Year Old Viking Heart joins the Highland Park 10 Year Old Viking Scars, the Highland Park 12 Year Old Viking Honour and the Highland Park 18 Year Old Viking Pride in the pantheon of the distillery’s core range.
And in case you were wondering about the name ‘Viking Heart’, this is because the Orkney Islands used to belong to Denmark and Norway, and its history is closely tied to that of the Vikings.
Fans of single malt Scotch will be familiar with the distillery’s releases, which bear the names of Nordic gods like Thor, Odin, Loki, and Freya, as well as warriors such as Sigurd, Harald, and Einar.
The 15 Year Old Viking Heart is beautifully presented in a beautiful glazed ceramic bottle heavily embossed with the signature lion and serpent design found on many of the distillery's bottles. It was inspired by ancient earthenware vessels that would have been used to store whisky at the distillery stored a century or two ago, and produced in partnership with renowned specialists UK based Wade Ceramics.
But what about the whisky itself? Well, to fully appreciate the 15 Year Old Viking Heart, one needs to understand the core DNA of Highland Park’s whiskies.
Highland Park Senior Brand Ambassador Martin Markvardsen once told me In a past interview that the DNA of Highland Park is “first of all, about the peat, and then the sherry cask.”
“We’re based on an island, and we have quite unique peat up there. Highland Park has always been peated, as far back as we can trace it”, he said.
“We are known for a sweet peaty whisky, with smoky, honey flavours. And from the cask, it is always sherry. That is what we try to do all the time – keep the sweetness from the peat, and the quality from the good sherry cask.”
Even with that in mind, the Highland Park 15 Year Old Viking Heart is unique in its own right. The whisky is created from casks hand-selected by Motion, and consists of a high percentage of first-fill European oak sherry seasoned casks (which deliver a warm, dry spicy note to the whisky) and first-fill American oak sherry seasoned casks (adding notes of vanilla and crème brûlée).
Last but not least, a small proportion of refill casks allow the gentle heather peat and lightly fruity character DNA of Highland Park whisky to shine through.
The result is a beautiful light golden, clear and bright liquid with notes of charred cinnamon shards, mellow smoke from Orkney’s unique heather peat; warm vanilla sponge cake, sun-kissed lemon zest, fresh pineapple, and rich heather honey, and a complex and rich finish lingers with a gentle aromatic peat smoke.
Wonderfully rich and complex, the 15 Year Old Viking Heart is a whisky that beats true to the legacy of Highland Park.
The Highland Park 15 Year Old Viking Heart is now available in Malaysia. Learn more at www.highlandparkwhisky.com/en.