Highland Park Trillium
Aged in refill Sherry butt
Highland Park, born 1798 from the imagination of Magnus Eunson : butcher and church officer…he was also a smuggler and an illicit distiller by night. He chose a place up from Kirkwall (Orkney’s largest city) to see the authorities coming, a Park High from town…thus the name Highland Park (absolutely no reference to the Scottish Highlands or the geographical position of Orkney compared to Mainland).As for process goes, HP uses a small part of peated barley, about 20%, with their own peat. This one is very different than what can be found in the Highlands or on Islay. On Orkney, there is no tall vegetation, no trees, no shrubs. So the peat there is just decomposed grass, or heather, giving the whisky a much “smoother” peat side than other peated whisky. HP also uses, mainly, some of the highest quality Sherry casks. Just like for Macallan, Edrington possesses its own Sherry factory, helping to guarantee an enough arrival of Sherry casks. The use of Orkney’s peat and high quality Sherry casks is what makes HP such a unique Scotch.As of late, Highland Park has been embracing its Vikings roots for every new expressions, except its core line and single casks. Some fans and industry members have criticized this portion of marketing. But I have to say, after spending 2 weeks on Orkney, it’s not HP embracing it : it’s the whole island. People have no idea how much Viking there is on the island : the streets, the boats names, the shops, etc. As someone there told me, Orkney has been part of the Danemark Kingdom for more than 6 centuries, and part of Scotland for less than 6. Do the math.
As for this particular release, it is part of the Single Cask release, targeting specific markets. Trillium (Ontario National flower emblem) is Canada’s first SC make specifically for LCBO.
Color : clear yellow.
Nose : strong heather peat very typical of Orkney ! It hides some honey, marmalade and candied fruits. Over time, these last flavors take up more space.
Palate : aouch … powerful and spicy ! Steak and chili spices. Once the first sip has passed and it got a little time to breathe, it softens but without removing the spicy side. There is a VERY light peat without smoke, complicated by the same hints of honey on the nose, vanilla, butter biscuits and candied citrus fruits.
Final : oh boy … it goes down slowly and far, languidly ! The peat comes back stronger but not at the same level as on the nose.
Comments : it’s good, very good even. I really like the power released by this Single Cask and the evolution in inverted pyramidons of peat.
On the other hand, for 250 $ CAN … not enough complex. For this price, you can have two HP classics, 12 and 18 years old. Not so exclusive, but when you pay this price, you are entitled to expect a little more different flavors.
In defense of Highland Park, it is apparently the LCBO (Ontario alcohol Liquor Board) that has set the price!