Where To Find: Highland Park Whisky Brings The Orkney Island to Seattle

Seattle is home to over 700 bars and 3,000 restaurants according to a recent study. Seattle boasts a vibrant and diverse bar culture that reflects the city’s eclectic atmosphere. From historic taverns to trendy cocktail lounges, there’s something to suit every taste. Craft beer enthusiasts can explore a plethora of microbreweries scattered throughout the city, offering innovative brews and cozy tasting rooms. Locally sourced ingredients and artisanal spirits take center stage in many of Seattle’s cocktail bars, where skilled mixologists concoct inventive drinks inspired by the Pacific Northwest’s bounty.

Dive bars exude a laid-back charm, welcoming patrons with cheap drinks, hearty pub grub, and a no-frills ambiance. Whether you’re seeking a sophisticated evening of craft cocktails, a casual night out with friends, or a dive bar adventure, Seattle’s bar scene promises memorable experiences for all.

One of our favorite picks for this month is a Whisky from Highland Park. Since 1798, the brand has crafted an award-winning, lightly-peated whisky at the Highland Park Distillery in Kirkwall, Orkney. Age, experience and respect for tradition. The intensely floral character of the heather-rich peat, and the finest sherry-seasoned oak casks, to create Highland Park’s uniquely complex balance of sweet and smoky flavours.

"The deep heritage, experience and tradition of craft have defined Highland Park whisky, but it is our Orkney Island home – the landscape, elements, community and people – that truly sets Highland Park apart. Remote, wind-swept Orkney lies outside the five main whisky-producing regions of Scotland, and it is the distinct elemental conditions that combine the intensely balanced flavors of heather honey, spiced dried fruit and sweet peat smoke to create a perfect balance that is uniquely Highland Park.

Highland Park has maintained the same five keystones of production since 1798. No other distillery uses all five keystones of production, so no other single malt Scotch whisky tastes like Highland Park – making the liquid innately unique. The five keystones include: traditional floor malting that is turned by hand onsite, the aromatic peat we carefully extract from Hobbister Moor, the oak casks that we season with dry Sherry, cool maturation due to the Orkney climate, and of course, the careful cask harmonization done by the Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion.

21 Year Old

The 21 Year Old 2023 Release is a fine example of the rewards delivered by a long and unhurried maturation, and by the marriage of exceptional casks. For this release, a total of 36 ex-bourbon hogsheads, first-fill sherry seasoned European and American oak casks, and ex-Rioja casks, all laid down between 1998 and 2001, were hand-selected by the Master Whisky Maker, Gordon Motion.

This enticingly sweet and spicy single malt Scotch whisky opens with delicious aromas of tropical fruits, toasted almonds, freshly grated nutmeg and floral peat smoke. Complex and finely balanced layers of flavour follow in a wild harmony of lemon zest and aromatic fenugreek, apples caramelised in honey and cinnamon, and a dusting of cedar-smoked sweet paprika. You’ll discover woody spices lingering at the finish, with just a hint of citrus oil in the heather-rich peat smoke.

18 Year Old

Named by the American whisky expert, F Paul Pacult, as ‘Best Spirit in the World’ (Spirit Journal), 18 Year Old Viking Pride is the most highly-awarded single malt whisky, being honoured with both a Gold and an Ultimate Recommendation (with a score of 96)  in the 2021 International Spirits Challenge.

Matured in a high proportion of first-fill sherry seasoned European and American oak casks, this superb 18 Year Old single malt pays tribute to the five keystones of production and presents a sophisticated medley of ripe cherries dusted with bittersweet cocoa, freshly harvested honeycomb and candied orange peel. There’s a whisper of Orkney’s salty seaspray in the aromatic peat smoke.

15 Year Old

This is a wonderfully rich and complex single malt. Opening with rich and spicy aromas of crème brûlée, heather honey and crumbled cinnamon, intensely fruity notes follow – fresh pineapple dressed with a scattering of sun-kissed lemon zest. There’s a hint of freshly baked sponge cake too, warm from the oven, and you’ll find cinnamon again, but toasted shards this time. Citrus and vanilla notes linger in the aromatic waves of peat smoke.

To create the 15 Year Old, Gordon Motion, the Master Whisky Maker, selected predominantly sherry seasoned European oak casks to deliver warm, spicy notes, and sherry seasoned American oak casks to provide a balance of sweet vanilla. Expertly adding just a few refill casks to soften and smooth the flavours, Gordon chose to bottle at 44% ABV to allow the whisky’s vibrant fruitiness and distinctive heathery peat to shine through.

12 Year Old

Matured predominantly in European and American sherry seasoned oak casks, the iconic 12 Year Old single malt whisky is spicy and well-rounded, packed with the flavours of sun-kissed Seville oranges and rich fruitcake spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves; you’ll find molten heather honey in this whisky’s waves of heathery peat smoke. Why not try it with a handful of wasabi peas on the side or alongside a sizzling, pan-fried rib-eye steak or with smoked salmon and sour cream.

Where to Find Highland Park

Macleod’s Scottish BarBallard
Aqua by El GauchoBelltown
Whisky BarBelltown
Fog Room (The Charter Hotel)Downtown
Kell’s Irish RestaurantDowntown
The Barrel ThiefFremont
Tin Lizzy Lounge (The Marqueen Hotel)Lower Queen Anne
Toulouse Petit Kitchen & LoungeLower Queen Anne
Whisky WestMorgan unction
Radiator WhiskyPike Place
Zig Zag CaféPike Place
Foreign NationalCapitol Hill
John Howie SteakBravern
Central BarWest Bellevue
Civility & UnrestWest Bellevue

Where the North Sea rises to meet the Atlantic Ocean. Where rugged coasts are lashed smooth by salt-laden sea winds. Where heather peat carpets mile after mile of wild moorland. This is where we make our whisky. This is Orkney.

Ten miles from the northernmost reaches of the Scottish mainland lie the 70 or so islands that make up Orkney, only 20 of which are inhabited. These islands may be remote and the weather might be wild, but the climate is temperate and the people are creative, so it’s the perfect place for making whisky. 58.9847°N

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