Highland Park 50: The Transcendent Island Single Malt

Back in 1960, the world reacted to the U-2 spy plane debacle, Alfred Hitchcock's thriller Psycho, and the election of John Kennedy as President of the United States.

In tiny Kirkwall, ten miles off the northern coast of Scotland on Orkney, the new make spirit that would become Highland Park 50 was laid down in five refill oak casks. Every single malt Scotch reflects the region of its birth, nurturing and maturation, and nowhere is this reflection more perfect than in Highland Park 50-year-old.

The sea, the land, the weather and the incredible quality of the light of the island are part and parcel of this once-in-a-lifetime whisky. Everything about Highland Park 50 is superlative, from the extraordinary brilliant mahogany color, through the aromatic morphing of aged tobacco into fruity spiciness, to the culmination of a flavor reminiscent of mild molasses and nutmeg. Adding a tiny amount of water releases the taste of orange peel, camphor and cloves. The finish is long, spicy and slightly smoky.

Complementing the incomparable liquid is another jewel in the crown of Highland Park 50-its packaging. The elemental forces that are the essence of Orkney served as inspiration for Scottish jewelry designer Maeve Gillies. Her intricate design of sterling silver, evoking images of seaweed, appears to "squeeze" and protect the bottle and its precious contents.

The bottle rests inside a hand-carved Scottish oak box, which boldly features a small sterling silver "porthole," through which to view the bottle. Maeve explains her design concept: "This bottle design is my tribute to the incredible natural beauty of Orkney and Highland Park. The design and crafting was made to look and feel in tune with ancient artifacts that define Orkney, and with every bottle being uniquely hand finished, each is very personal and dear to my heart. I hope people enjoy it for a lifetime, and beyond."

Highland Park 50 is limited to 275 bottles worldwide, with only five available in the United States this year. It has been bottled at 44.8 percent alcohol by volume and carries a suggested retail price (where available) at about $17,500 per bottle.

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Ray Pearson

Ray Pearson is an active member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association and a regular contributor to on-line publications including JustLuxe, CityRoom, Tonique Magazine, Examiner, and TripAdvisor, specializing in spirits, cuisine, and travel. Ray is a nationally recognized single malt Scotch expert with 20 years? experience in the spirits industry, specializing in Scotc...(Read More)

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