Highland Park doesn’t do things in half measures – apart from the odd dram, perhaps. In one fell swoop it has redesigned its core range to stand out on the back bar, scrapped two variants and launched Valkyrie, the first in a series of three releases.
Where to start? For the first time in 10 years, Highland Park has updated its packaging to bring it from ‘the old to new world’. Well, kinda. The brand has embraced its Viking bloodline and the new, wider bottle with glass emboss quite clearly says: The Orkney Single Malt with Viking Soul.
The liquid in its 10yo, 12yo and 18yo is unchanged but two batches of the latter will be released every year – the first one will be dated February Batch 2017 – Rotation A123.
'For us, it is about awareness,' senior brand ambassador, Martin Markvardsen told Imbibe. 'The more you talk about it, the more you create awareness and people will recognise the brand.
'What we heard about the old bottle is that it looked a bit like a bourbon. I think the new bottling and positioning will stand out well and look like a whisky.'
Highland Park 25yo, 30yo and 40yo will receive the same treatment in eight to 12 months. The refreshed 10yo, 12yo and 18yo will be appearing on shelves any day now, if the 12yo isn’t already.
The heavily embossed bottle is not being used for the newly unveiled Viking Legend Series, starting with Valkyrie. Instead, renowned Danish designer and real life Viking Jim Lyngvild led the design work on the new series.
When one door closes...
In order to let her fly, Dark Origins and Highland Park 15yo have had their wings clipped and been discontinued.
Full Volume, a release launching in late summer, will replace the 15yo and Valkyrie will replace Dark Origins.
That’s not it when it comes to the launches. Valkyrie is only the first in a series of three Viking Legend releases all of which, as the name helpfully suggest, relate back to the myths and legends narrated in Viking mythology. Valknut will follow and Valhalla will be the third. Fire and Ice Special Editons and a 50YO are all set for release at the end of the year.
Markvardsen says bartenders tend to gravitate towards the 10yo and 12yo and early indications show its Valkyrie will be another go-to.
'When it comes to drinks and cocktails, people are willing to pay a bit more for a good drink or cocktail and that is why Highland Park fits quite well,' he says. 'For a bar, it is a must-have.'
'The whisky itself, created by our master whisky maker, Gordon Motion, dials up more of our smoky notes by incorporating more of our heathery peated malt,' Jason Craig, Highland Park brand director, added.
'This creates a richer, fuller phenolic note that has balance due to the sweeter, heathery character of our moorland peat but it is a slight departure from our core 12yo whisky.'
In November the brand tasked bartenders across the globe to use the new expression. Markvardsen said they were quick to pick up on the heather from the peat and used honey in innovative ways. But he assures us it works equally well in a Rob Roy, Manhattan or Old Fashioned.
Valkyrie, RSP £55 for a 70cl bottle, 45.9% abv
Full Volume, circa £75 for a 70cl bottle, 47.2% abv
Same liquid, new bottle:
Viking Scars (10yo) RRP £30 for a 70cl bottle, 40% abv (April)
Viking Honour (12yo) RRP £37 for a 70cl bottle, 40% abv (April)
Viking Pride (18yo) RRP £110 (UK) for a 70cl bottle (July)