Spirit Of The Week: Highland Park 15 Year Old Viking Heart

This standout single malt scotch wows with subtle notes of vanilla, honey and crème brûlée. 

(Highland Park)

As the Orkney Islands were controlled by the Danes, not Brits, until the 1400s, and due to who inhabited the archipelago a millennia ago, Highland Park’s DNA runs thick with Viking blood. The language of Orkney combines Danish, English and Scottish Gaelic, underscoring how integral Viking culture is to the people of those harsh, weather-beaten isles. It also explains why Viking imagery and myth weaves their way through the fabric of the renowned Highland Park Distillery. 

Brand Ambassador Martin Markvardsen (2022 Scotch Whisky Brand Ambassador of The Year) recently hosted us at Highland Park’s “A Wild Harmony” dinner to sample a wide swath of the portfolio of Scotland’s northernmost distillery. Beyond running through the brand’s 12-, 18-, 21- and 25-year-old whiskies, we also shared in the first-ever U.S. tasting of Highland Park’s new 15 Year Old Viking Heart single malt. 

With peated single malts, as Highland Park crafts, often you don’t have to age beyond 8-10 years if you want to maximize the complex peat qualities. But the 15 years Highland Park’s single malt ages in first-fill European sherry seasoned oak casks expertly smooths out the smokiness of the island’s unique heather peat (the only distillery to use Orkney peat), leaving Viking Heart with subtle notes of vanilla, honey and crème brûlée. 

Matching its name, 15 Year Old Viking Heart comes in a stout, sharply embossed white ceramic vessel — crafted by UK based specialists Wade Ceramics — inspired by ancient earthenware containers the Viking descendants would have used to store the whisky at the Kirkwall, Orkney distillery a couple centuries ago when it opened in 1798.

Highland Park 15 Year Old Viking Heart comes bottled at 88-proof (44% ABV) for $110. 

Follow Contributing Editor Nicolas Stecher on Instagram at @nickstecher and @boozeoftheday

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