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Highland Park Distillery

Overview

Distillery tours do tend to be quite similiar and we have done a lot of them, however, we have to say that we really enjoyed the style of tour at Highland Park as it aims to explain why their product tastes different from other whiskies. Like most distillery tours, you start with a short video which combines romantic images of Orkney with a suitably evocative soundtrack and lots of poetic commentary from the voiceover. So far nothing much different.

You then start on the walk around the distillery premises and things start to get more interesting. Your guide will likely tell you the story about how Highland Park evolved from an illegal still run by a local minister who encouraged large attendances at his sermons by providing free whisky. This minister's illicit still was then shut down by the local Customs Officer. The same officer then spotted a market opportunity and opened Highland Park distillery in 1798.

The first production area that you visit is the Maltings room. Highland Park is one of the few distilleries which retains on site Maltings, but they only do ~20% of the barley that goes into the production of their whisky. You then visit the Kiln room where you can see the old kiln used to dry out the malted barley. The guide explains how a particular mix of peat is used to get the right balance of heat and smoke. The peat is locally sourced from Hobbister Moor, which is to the west of Kirkwall on the A964 heading to Orphir.

After the Kiln room, you climb stairs to the Mash Room where the fermentation process begins. Next on the tour is the Still Room where your guide will explain how the shape of the stills and the lyne arm have an influence on how oily and heavy the whisky will be. Highland Park favours short and stubby stills as they allow a more "oily" spirit to be distilled.

The tour of the production areas ends with a visit to Warehouse No.3 where you are told about the important role that the cask has on the outcome of the flavour of the whisky. You are invited to smell the difference between 2 casks that have both been filled with Aloroso sherry, but one is made from Spanish Oak whilst the other is American Oak. The contrast is surprisingly strong with the Spanish Oak giving a sweet finish, whilst the American Oak results in a lighter citrus finish.

Of course, no distillery tour would be complete without a tasting and Highland Park offer you a sample of their 12 year old.

Read our Travel Blog for more information on the best things to do in Orkney.

Address:

Holm Road, Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1SU, 01856 874619

Operated by:

Highland Park

Opening Hours:

April to October: Daily - 10am to 5pm (1 hour long tour departs on the hour from 10am - 4pm) November to March: Mon - Fri - (1 hour long tour departs on the hour from 10am - 4pm) Closed 25th and 26th December and New Year's Day

Admission:

Adult £ 10 (extended whisky tasting tours available from £20 up to £75) - Pre-booking is always advisable

Parking:

Yes

Languages:

English

Accessibility:

The tour involves climbing steps to visit the Mashroom, but most of the other areas can be accessed by wheelchair.

Toilets:

Yes

Shop:

Yes

Cafe/Restaurant:

No

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