Highland Park distillery was founded by Magnus Eunson, a butcher and church officer by day and illicit distiller and whisky smuggler by night. In 1798 he was caught illegally distilling whisky on the site. In 1826, nearly 30 years later, Highland Park received an official license to distill whisky.
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 basic process at Highland Park is similar to that at other distilleries. However, there are some key differences that make Highland Park unique in the world of single malts.
Highland Park is the only distillery in the world to use peat from Orkney. Exposed to the elements and pounded relentlessly by gale-force winds, few trees survive Orkney’s harsh conditions. In absence of trees, the peat the distillery burns to smoke its hand-malted barley is densely compacted heather dating back 4,000 - 9,000 years. This peat burns slowly, delivering the distinctive aromatic smoke the distillery is known for.
Temperate weather: Although rainy and windy, the islands of Orkney are blessed with a surprisingly temperate climate, providing the perfect environment for whisky casks to quietly mature at an even pace, without being exposed to extremes in temperature.
Sherry-seasoned oak casks: Between 60-80% of a whisky’s flavor comes the cask in which it matures. Highland Park uses casks made of either American or European oak. These are built by hand in Spain, filled with Oloroso Sherry and left to season for two years. The casks are then emptied and sent to Orkney where they are filled with the new make spirit and left to mature for at least a decade – and up to five in the case of Highland Park 50 Year Old