When I was 18, I was stationed at Lowry Air Force Base in Colorado for training. If you were under age and wanted to consume alcohol at the time, you’d better find someone’s apartment off base and you’d better make sure you were sober before you came back on. Growing up in Germany with my parents afforded me the ability to have beer and wine in a totally legal fashion…well under 21. As a result I’m still puzzled by the American temperance movement.
When I did go off base, I wanted to experience single malt Scottish Whisky. On an airman’s salary you took what you could get, and it wasn’t until I went back to Germany at 19 on assignment that I was able to both find and afford a quality dram. I’ve been back in The States primarily for 20 years now, and since then I’ve been able to taste many labels of whiskies. And Scotches. Obviously there is a difference.
Research has finally led me to a place I have longed to go. Orkney.
Highland Park whiskies have smoke like no other peat, and sweet like no other sweet. I know distillers are all passionate about their product, and have clever things to say about why they do what they do for their expressions. Perhaps I am swayed by my paternal and maternal forefathers all being Vikings on Orkney in centuries past, but damned if Highland Park doesn’t make the finest whisky.
Scarth, Skarð, Skarðaborg, Scharbor, Skerrabra, Skara Brae…my dad's family was on Orkney for a long time a very long time ago. Mom’s was for certain from another family. That said, I have declared Highland Park as our family’s official whisky. Bold of me, don't you think?
Someday I’ll go there and thank the distillers myself. Perhaps even sit at my grandfather Thorfinn Skullsplitter’s (Hausakljúfr) grave and share one with him.
Until then, please pick up a bottle for yourself. There are plenty of fine reviews out there to read on one to your liking.
Find one and let me know what you think.