Highland Park Distillery Logo

Highland Park Distillery

  • Scotland
  • Three-time winner of “The Best Spirit in the World” by F. Paul Pacult, Double Gold medals for their special releases, The Light and The Dark, at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2018.
  • https://www.highlandparkwhisky.com/
Phone Number
  • +441856885604
  • Holm Rd, Kirkwall KW15 1SU, United Kingdom

Highland Park Distillery entrance with stone buildings.

History of Highland Park Distillery


Historical Legacy and Location

Highland Park Distillery, located in the storm-lashed Orkney islands, has been crafting single malt Scotch whisky for over 220 years.

Perched atop high ground on the southern edge of Kirkwall, the distillery has weathered long winters and raging storms, contributing to its harmonious whisky.

Traditional Kilns and Unique Stills

The distillery boasts two kilns, over 100 years old, used to dry malted barley with local peat from Hobbister Moor.

Its stillhouse contains four stills with unique windows, allowing a view of the boiling liquid, a testament to their dedication to perfection.

Whisky Range and Visitor Experience

Highland Park offers a range of award-winning whiskies, including 18 Year Old, 21 Year Old 2023 Release, Cask Strength Release No. 4, 12 Year Old, and 15 Year Old.

Visitors are encouraged to explore the distinct culture, climate, and geology of Orkney, which shapes the character of their whiskies.

Production at Highland Park Distillery

Highland Park Distillery, renowned for its single malt Scotch whisky, adheres to five key production principles, ensuring the creation of its distinctive spirits.

Hand-Turned Floor Maltings

Highland Park is one of the few distilleries that still turn malt by hand. This labor-intensive process involves turning barley every eight hours, seven days a week, to maintain the right moisture level and absorb the aromatic smoke from Hobbister Moor peat.

Aromatic Peat from Hobbister Moor

The peat, unique to Highland Park, is over 9,000 years old and essential to the whisky’s flavor. The distillery hand-cuts peat annually, drying it naturally before using it in their kilns. They collaborate with the RSPB to protect the moor and use peat efficiently, cutting 30% less each year.

Sherry Seasoned Oak Casks

Casks contribute significantly to the whisky’s flavor and color. Highland Park insists on high-quality sherry seasoned oak casks for maturation.

They select European and American oak trees, ship the staves to Jerez, Spain for cask making and sherry maturation, and then bring them back to Orkney for whisky aging.

Cool Maturation

The distillery benefits from Orkney’s long winters and mild climate, influenced by the Gulf Stream. This environment is ideal for the whisky’s long, cool, and evenly paced maturation.

Cask Harmonisation

Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion selects and marries up to 150 casks for each batch of Highland Park.

The whisky rests for at least a month before bottling, allowing flavors to combine and harmonize, resulting in a fully rounded flavor and long, satisfying finish.

Awards Won by Highland Park Distillery

  • “The Best Spirit in the World” on three occasions by F. Paul Pacult, America’s foremost expert on distilled spirits.
  • 25-year-old whisky received the first ever perfect 100-point score at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge.
  • Special distillery releases, The Light and The Dark, each awarded a Double Gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2018.
  • Chairman’s Trophy for Best in Category at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge for four consecutive years, up to 2019.
  • Ranked second in whisky auction sales in 2018, indicative of growing demand from collectors.
  • Distiller of the Year at the San Francisco World Spirit Awards 2007.
  • Highland Park 12 year old single malt named Best in Show at the San Francisco World Spirit Awards 2008.
  • Awarded the Five Star Award by the Scottish Tourist Board in 2020, and retained this rating since.

Highland Park Distillery Tour Information and Experience

Tour Experiences

  • The Spirit of Orkney Experience: This tour serves as an ideal introduction to Highland Park, where visitors can explore the distillery, meet the people behind the whisky, and sample their products.
  • A Wild Harmony Experience: After an extensive tour of the working distillery, guests enjoy a tutored tasting of five award-winning single malts.
  • Orcadian Vintages Experience: This exclusive experience includes sampling whisky straight from the cask in Warehouse 12, followed by a tutored tasting of four spectacular vintages in the Eunson Room.
  • Rare and Exclusive Experience: As the name suggests, this tour offers a rare and exclusive insight into the distillery, providing a one-of-a-kind experience.

Store Visit

The Highland Park store in Kirkwall is more than just a retail space. It offers a true Orkney experience, showcasing the distillery’s Viking heritage and their dedication to Viking Harmony.

Opening Times

The distillery operates from April 1st to October 30th (Monday to Sunday: 10 am – 5 pm) and from November 1st to March 31st (Tuesday to Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm).

Contact Information

Visitors can contact the distillery for more information or to book a tour via telephone (+44(0) 1856 885604) or email (tours@highlandparkwhisky.com).

Flask & Barrel Review of Highland Park Distillery

As a whiskey collector who’s seen a fair share of distilleries, Highland Park really hits the mark. Nestled in a breathtaking spot, it’s got this charm that few can match. The tour itself was top-notch – informative without being too stuffy. You really get a sense of their dedication to the craft.

What stood out for me was their 25-year-old whisky. I mean, it’s not every day you come across a spirit that’s grabbed a perfect score at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. Tasting it, you understand why – it’s a flawless blend of flavors that just dances on your palate.

Their approach to aging whisky, especially The Light and The Dark, is something special. The balance and complexity these whiskies offer are a testament to their mastery.

Sure, it’s busy and a bit of a tourist hotspot, but that’s part of the charm. And while no place is perfect, Highland Park comes pretty darn close in the world of whisky. I’d give it a solid 4.7 out of 5. It’s a must-visit for any whisky enthusiast – you won’t be disappointed.

What To Do Nearby Highland Park Distillery

  • Saint Magnus Cathedral (0.9 mi): This historic cathedral is a centerpiece of Kirkwall, renowned for its beautiful architecture and rich history as a religious site. A must-visit for those interested in the cultural heritage of the Orkney Islands.
  • The Orkney Distillery (1.1 mi): Just a short distance from Highland Park, this distillery offers another perspective on the rich whisky-making tradition of the Orkneys, providing a great comparison to Highland Park’s own methods and flavors.
  • The Orkney Museum (0.9 mi): A treasure trove of local history, this museum showcases artifacts and stories from Orkney’s past, from ancient times through to the present day, making it ideal for history enthusiasts.
  • The Earl’s Palace (0.9 mi): An impressive historical site, the Earl’s Palace is known for its striking ruins and intriguing history, offering a glimpse into the life of nobility in the Orkneys during the 16th and 17th centuries.
  • Scapa the Orcadian (1.1 mi): Another local distillery, Scapa offers visitors a unique experience with its own distinct whisky production methods and flavors, adding depth to the whisky-tasting journey in Kirkwall.
  • Bishop’s Palace and Earl’s Palace (0.9 mi): These two historic sites provide a fascinating look into the medieval history of Kirkwall, with the Bishop’s Palace dating back to the 12th century.
  • Kirkwall VisitScotland iCentre (1 mi): This visitor center is a great starting point for tourists, offering information, advice, and resources to help plan your exploration of Orkney.
  • Orkney Wireless Museum (1.1 mi): For those interested in technology and history, this museum offers an intriguing look at the development of wireless communication, with a unique collection of historical radios and equipment.
  • HMS Royal Oak Memorial (0.8 mi): A poignant landmark, this memorial honors the crew of the HMS Royal Oak, which was sunk during World War II, offering a moment of reflection and historical significance.
  • Orkney Library & Archive (1 mi): A hub of local knowledge, the library and archive provide extensive resources about Orkney’s history and culture, perfect for those looking to delve deeper into the island’s past.

Frequently Asked Questions

What restaurants are near Highland Park Distillery?

  • Helgi’s: It has a rating of 4.5 stars on Google Maps. Their address is 14 Harbour St, Kirkwall KW15 1LE, United Kingdom.
    For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441856879293. 
  • Indian Garden: It has a rating of 4.2 stars on Google Maps. Their address is 37 Junction Rd, Kirkwall KW15 1AX, United Kingdom.
    For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441856875575. 
  • Dil Se Restaurant: It has a rating of 4.1 stars on Google Maps. Their address is 7 Bridge St, Kirkwall KW15 1HR, United Kingdom.
    For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441856875242.

What hotels are near Highland Park Distillery?

  • Bed and Breakfast in Orkney: It has a rating of 4.6 stars on Google Maps. Their address is Royal Oak House, Holm Rd, Kirkwall KW15 1PY, United Kingdom.
    For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441856877177. 
  • Karrawa Guest House / B&B: It has a rating of 4.8 stars on Google Maps. Their address is Inganess Rd, St Ola, Kirkwall KW15 1SP, United Kingdom.
    For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441856871100. 
  • Ayre Hotel & Apartments: It has a rating of 4.3 stars on Google Maps. Their address is Ayre Rd, Kirkwall KW15 1QX, United Kingdom.
    For reservations, you can reach out to them on their phone at +441856873001.