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Soren cask warehouse keith

The Viking spirit lives on

From around 800AD until 1468, Orkney was conquered and then ruled by a succession of Viking Earls. Their influence lives on through our respect for the land, hard work, and in our belief that nothing worthwhile comes easy.


Viking Ship sailing

Early in the 9th century, when Viking longboats were leaving the shores of Denmark and Norway to navigate uncharted waters in search of new lands to conquer, they came upon Orkney. And so our tiny cluster of 70 islands, scattered off the extreme north coast of Scotland, was swept up into a vast Viking kingdom and ruled by a succession of Viking Earls.


Soren St Magnus Graves

Of all the Earls of Orkney, Magnus Erlendsson was the most celebrated. But if his life was one of virtue and wise counsel, his death was one of jealousy, betrayal and intrigue. Around the year of 1117, he was killed on the order of his cousin Haakon, and it was said he prayed for the souls of his executioners. At the site of his death and burial, there were accounts of miraculous healings - and thus, the ‘legend of Magnus’ was born. Eventually proclaimed a saint, his remains were finally interred in St Magnus Cathedral, which was built in his honour some 100 years after his death, and continually added to for the next 300 years.


Soren Boats

In 1468, King Christian I of Norway and Denmark handed our islands over to Scotland, as part of his daughter Margaret’s marriage dowry to James III, King of Scotland. This marriage may have ended over 600 years of Viking rule on Orkney, but it didn’t end our Viking bond. Our islands had become home to those earliest Vikings settlers – and it was a home they never left. Today, 1 in 3 islanders bears Viking DNA and we Orcadians feel strongly connected to our ancestors, sharing their pride, integrity and fierce independence. At Highland Park, we are justified in proudly stating that our whisky is crafted by modern-day Viking souls.


Soren Bothy

Our founder, Magnus Eunson, was a direct Viking descendant, one who embodied a rugged balance: he was a butcher and church officer by day and a smuggler by night. He set up his illicit still at a little bothy at High Park, overlooking Kirkwall – still the site of Highland Park today. We say that our distillery was founded in 1798, but in truth, that’s just the year the authorities finally caught up with Magnus and gave him the choice to start paying taxes or to go to jail. Regardless, whisky was certainly being made before that. With the exception of the smuggling operation, very little has changed in those intervening years. We stay true to the exacting standards of whisky-making our founder introduced, and share his bold and uncompromising approach, and his dedication to the pursuit of Viking Harmony. In fact, some say we’re a whisky crafted in the old way by a new generation of Vikings.

Did you know?

St Magnus Cathedral Orkney
St Magnus Cathedral was commissioned by Earl Rognvald Kali in the 12th century. It took 100 years to complete using locally quarried red and yellow sandstone, but was, for the next 300 years, improved and added to, causing the cathedral to constantly evolve. Most unusually, the Cathedral is not the property of any particular church but belongs to the people of Kirkwall.
Orkney Flag
Under Viking rule for over 600 years and now part of Scotland for nearly 600 years, we Orcadians see ourselves as a proud harmony of the two. As such, we have our own distinct identity, our own way of doing things and, of course, our own flag.
New Kiln Sign
We see ourselves as custodians of our distillery at Highland Park. For the most part, we do things the old way. We certainly don’t shun innovation, but we only introduce it when it’s of direct benefit to the quality and flavour of our whisky (our ‘new’ kiln is over 100 years old and we’re in no hurry to replace it). After all, nothing worthwhile comes easy.

Our Orkney Home

Our island home has its own distinct culture, climate and geology. It makes us what we are – proud to stand apart.

Our Distillery

Visit our distillery to meet the modern-day Viking descendants who make our whisky.

Our Whisky