The start of the New Year is an ideal time to take stock of health and wellbeing and establish new rituals to feed mind, body and soul. While that doesn’t necessarily mean cutting out every little indulgence (we’re only human after all) it could mean making the most of the things we enjoy in a more mindful way.
The appreciation and enjoyment of whisky can be a really immersive experience, engaging all five of our senses. So, when you next pour yourself a measure of Highland Park, why not take it slowly and give it your full attention? Read the tasting notes or check out one of our tasting videos before you begin and, if you’ve been following our recipes or food pairings, prepare a snack too - our master Whisky Maker, Gordon Motion, swears by sweet chilli flavoured potato crisps with 12 Year Old Viking Honour!
Touch, sound, sight, aroma and (finally) taste
Start with the distinctive ‘hand feel’ of our embossed bottles, the design inspired by ancient carvings found in the Stavkirke in Norway where our ancient Viking ancestors come from – run your fingers across the bottom of the bottle… did you know that the map of Orkney is embossed on the base?
Don’t forget to listen to that distinctive sound when you twist the stopper out of the bottle too. Now, pour yourself a measure – ideally in one of our peedie glasses – and look at the colour of your whisky. At Highland Park, we never (ever) use artificial colouring; every single one of our whiskies displays a natural cask-driven colour. That means each different whisky varies slightly in hue, from light and golden to deep amber or russet, according to the casks it was matured in and the age at which it was tipped and bottled.
Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose (a couple of inches above the rim of the glass) to savour the different aromas that emerge… what can you identify? And, when you take your first sip, how does the whisky feel in your mouth – what flavours can you detect and how do they change between your first and final sip? What aftertaste are you left with? Check out the tasting notes and videos again – do you agree? Taste is subjective and we’re always interested to hear about the different flavours people find in our whisky.
To ice or not to ice?
There are various schools of thought on adding water and ice to single malt whisky. We asked our Master Whisky Maker, Gordon Motion, for his expert opinion…
“Adding a few drops of water will reduce the whisky’s alcohol vapours - if they’re too high this can blind you to other aromas. Think of a band, where the drums are so loud you can’t hear the other instruments or vocals, turn the drum volume down and the tune appears. Bottled water is fine but it’s best to avoid tap water if it’s chlorinated.
“If you want to chill your whisky, add lots of ice or very large ice cubes – it won’t melt before you finish your drink. If, on the other hand, you want to dilute your whisky, add one or two small ice cubes or crushed ice – this will melt more quickly and only chill your drink slightly. When ice is used to chill whisky, it will reduce the aromas being released and you’ll need to warm the whisky for longer in your mouth to fully release the aromas and flavours – this might give you a stronger sensation of the whisky in your mouth.”
Gordon doesn’t recommend over-chilling by putting your whisky in the freezer but he’s not averse to trying a dram of Cask Strength Release No. 1 poured over ice cream!