Whisky Advocate

Highland Park to release Global Travel Retail range of whiskies

March 18th, 2010

I have review samples and hope to taste these whiskies soon and let you know my thoughts. Press release is below.


The Best Spirit in the World* has simultaneously released four new whiskies exclusive to Global Travel Retail. Every new expression of Highland Park is eagerly anticipated by trade and consumer alike but the launch of an entire range is unprecedented for the Orcadian distillery. The Vintage Editions range consists initially of four Highland Park single malt whiskies distilled in 1998, 1994, 1990 and 1973.

According to Max McFarlane, Whisky Maker: “The starting point for this range was to look into our maturing stocks to find sherry seasoned casks which would showcase different dimensions of the classic Highland Park profile of honey sweetness and aromatic peat. I am delighted to have identified specific vintage years with exceptional casks.” 

The differences between the expressions lie in the extent to which first-fill or refill European and American Sherry oak casks have been used. The 1998 and the 1990 Vintages emphasise the smokier notes whilst the 1994 and the 1973 highlight the sweeter characteristics.

Jason Craig, Global Controller of Highland Park, adds: “Global Travel Retail has been nothing short of phenomenal for us with 88% growth over the last five years; I am confident this stunning new range will allow us to maintain our dynamic performance in this channel and maintain our position as the world’s most respected single malt.”

Highland Park 1998 Vintage 40%

With an emphasis on first-fill American oak Sherry casks in its maturation, this vintage reveals the smoky side of Highland Park, attributable to the distinctively aromatic peat from Hobbister Moor. The yellow accent of the packaging is inspired by the Orkney sun which, at midsummer, never sets.

Colour:          Rich, golden, clear and bright.

Aroma:         Opaque honey, dried grass with ginger spicy notes. Dried apricot emerges late.

Palate:          The vanilla and honey sweetness developed from a dozen years in American oak is perfectly balanced with the emergence of the aromatic heather peat smoke. Sweet notes of cinnamon and cashew nuts emerge.

Finish:           Sweet with medium lingering spice and smoke.    

Highland Park 1994 Vintage 40%

This vintage has luxuriated in the most expensive casks; a higher proportion of first-fill European oak Sherry casks have imbued the whisky with a rich, dark colour which is mirrored by sweetness on the palate. The crisp blue of the label reflects the deep sea and big sky of Orkney.

 Colour:          Rich, warm, amber hue.

Aroma:         Warm caramel to the fore coupled with hints of almonds. Dark fruit, including cherries and figs, are slowly revealed as the whisky opens up.

Palate:          Caramel and soft smoky notes intertwine with cinnamon and rich dried fruits.  

Finish:           Beautifully mature with a lingering, warming smoky finish.

Highland Park 1990 Vintage 40%

A slight increase in the proportion of first-fill European oak Sherry casks underlines the balance between sweetness and smoke for which Highland Park is renowned by whisky enthusiasts the world over. In essence, this expression is a bridge between 18 year old (The Best Spirit in the World*) and 21 year old (World’s Best Single Malt, World Whisky Awards 2009). The light green tones on the packaging represent Orkney’s fertile farmland.

Colour:          Golden, glowing coppery tones.

Aroma:         Orange peel, honeycomb with cedar wood and rich fragrant spicy notes; nutmeg with a hint of cloves coming through.      

Palate:          Mouth-watering citrus in the form of lemons and oranges, sweet vanilla custard notes wrapped in subtle yet complex spices at the end.

Finish:           Medium sweet with lingering smoky spiciness.     

Highland Park 1973 Vintage 50.6%

When laying down a whisky for extended maturation, as with this Vintage, there is a danger the cask may dominate the spirit. Every time a cask is used, its ability to impart an influence on the spirit is diminished, which is why at Highland Park refill casks are used for the older whiskies. The refill casks specially selected for this Vintage allow the natural characteristics of Highland Park to come through; there is no over-dominance of cask. This Vintage is un-chill-filtered and completely natural colour (as are all Highland Park whiskies).

Tasting notes

Colour:          Rich, warm and naturally golden.

Aroma:         Complex aromatic layers emerge as this whisky reveals itself. Vanilla and toffee sweetness are evident; enticing floral notes and hints of heather are followed by dried citrus fruits, nutmeg and coconut.       

Palate:          The assertive citrus notes are balanced by the layers of caramel, cinnamon and soft floral flavours. The slight oak tones are first balanced and then swept aside by the late arrival of classic Highland Park spicy smokiness.     

Finish:           This whisky lingers, a clear reminder of the complexity that Highland Park is able to deliver. It is medium sweet, with a long smoky finish.

The stunning packaging draws on Orkney’s Norse heritage; the design on the front of the oak box takes the form of the complex woodcarvings in the characteristic ‘gripping beast’ style seen on the Oseberg ship, the oldest and most beautiful vessel of the Viking age. The outstanding craftsmanship has provided inspiration for the design of the packaging of this exceptional whisky for today’s intrepid travellers.

12 Responses to “Highland Park to release Global Travel Retail range of whiskies”

  1. John Hansell says:

    One more thing from the press release: The Duty Free recommended retail prices are: 1998 Vintage €46 (1l), 1994 Vintage €65 (70cl), 1990 Vintage €99 (70cl) and 1973 Vintage €750 (70cl). The range will be available from April/May 2010.

  2. Gal says:

    a pleasure!
    HP rocks.

  3. This looks quite interesting, and the pricing at least for the 1998 is rather reasonable. But still at 40% for the 3 younger ones. Dont’ they get the message?

    Will these replace the current travel retail series or will they be an addition to the range?

  4. Mark says:

    Looking forward to your thoughts on the whiskies (all in good time). I quite liked their 16yr in travel retail. Leave it to HP to introduce a range of prices as well as whiskies, and here’s to them.

  5. David says:

    Does anyone know if they are availabe at Heathrow yet, my brother is flying through in a few weeks and want him to pick up a bottle for me. Thanks.

  6. It is disappointing to see that Highland Park hasn’t gone in the non-chillfiltered 46% route. This is a lost opportunity to put this iconic brand on a path that consumers are increasingly demanding. If Glenmorangie can do it with their “Extra Matured” range, why can’t Highland Park?

    • Alex says:

      I agree with the missed opportunity – especially considering the pricing on some – and I wonder if its just a matter of available stocks.

      I just don’t like the whole travel retail construct – too many offerings that those of us not jetting around internationally miss out on. Last time I was in JFK, Terminal 5, best offering in Duty Free was Old Parr 18 – nothing too exciting. Oh well, rant over…

    • Mark says:

      It does seem likely that the first three of the set would be better at a higher percentage and NCF’d, and it seems plausible that stock issues played a role in the decision making.

      Could it also be that accessibility to scotch for those who buy in the travel retail market played a role? That’s not a rhetorical question. I don’t know the patterns and I wonder. I’m willing to guess that accessibility played a role for those more affordable bottles.

  7. mongo says:

    i’m drinking some of the 1998 right now (a friend picked it up for me from world of whiskies a few weeks ago). a nice, easy drinking whisky. tastes a little thinner than the regular 12 year old, and given the sherry emphasis there’s no surprise that it’s less balanced. not essential by any means but not bad at all (i’d probably rate it in the low-middle 80s).

    quite a wonderful nose, not quite matched on the palate. i am detecting slightly bitter woody notes on the finish along with the mild smoke that makes its way through the sweet top-notes (with a drop of water added; have not yet had it neat).

  8. […] however, unlike the TripleWood, I don’t think you’ll have a hard time locating these HP vintages once you make your way into any World Travel Retail shop. Whisky vintaged from the U.N. […]

  9. […] This has an emphasis on American oak ex-sherry casks but also has refill European ex-sherry casks in the vatting. It’s style is meant to be closely related to the 16yo and 21yo HPs – which is a concern for me as the 21yo is excellent, but I’m not particularly fond of the 16yo. This expression was released in July 2009, exclusively for travel retail, but is not part of the core travel retail range that was recently released, details on What Does John Know. […]

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