Highland Park Magnus Single Malt Scotch



Highland Park does an amazing dance of complexity among seashore, peat, malt and sherried wood. It is one of the few single malts that you will ever taste that does this so uniquely, and is oft considered one of the best.

Highland Park is the farthest north distillery in Scotland, being based far out on the Orkney Island off the northeast coast. Being so far north, and right next to the ocean, imparts some of the beloved flavors to the spirit – the sea-spray tang along with salted apricots and dried honey.

Along with this, Highland Park uses peat. But not just any peat – Orcadian peat from the Island which is dominated by compressed herbaceous plants like heather (as opposed to peat from other areas which can vary from ancient tree material to seaweed). Yet this is not an Islay distillery, and typically only 10% of the mashbill sees a malted peat treatment. The idea is to add complexity, married with the coastal influence, to give the spirit a subtle yet tangible signature profile, existing only here.

Finally, Highland Park uses primarily sherry casks, an oddity across all of Scotland (save Macallan and a few others) and certainly an oddity when combined with peat and the coastal influence. Yet this oddity is what makes Highland Park unique, and loved – the graceful dance on the palate between sherry’s apricot fruit flavor, nuttiness and orange zest melds seamlessly into touches of smoke and campfire.

Of course, all this complexity comes at a price, and those of us who have been following Highland Park realize how high this price has gone. That’s understandable, given the quality and the demand, yet also unfortunately unfortunate. Both to those who love it – because we now pay more, but also to those just starting to get interested in single malts – it’s hard to pull the trigger on $120 18-year if you don’t get a chance to taste.

Hence, this bottle.

I believe this bottling is a blend of young and new Highland Park, made in the same way, but also blended with spirit that sees fresh new oak. The idea being, you get the complexity of Highland Park, the mellow oak character, yet at a price that’s made to be shared. And it succeeds:

The nose opens with golden date, jasmine, orange blossom and allspice. These are just the opening movements to what is a symphony on the palate of dried fruits, baking spices of ginger, honey, clove, and English breakfast tea. It rounds out on the finish with a mellow touch of sea brine, and a lingering sherry note.

A perfect opportunity to introduce Island or peated scotch to a friend, or just to cozy up to the warmth of a generous Highlander – Highland Park’s Magnus is an enormous single malt value, and one not to be missed!


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