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Viking by descent, Viking by nature.

Our Viking Legacy, Our Viking Roots

From around 800AD until 1468, Orkney was ruled by a succession of Viking Earls, some extremely wise and some, it has to be said, extremely wicked. Their stories are brought vividly to life in the Orkneyinga Saga – The History of the Earls of Orkney written around 1200 and their influence lives on to this day.
Raven Viking Ship


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, were swept up into a vast Viking kingdom, and ruled by a succession of Viking Earls.


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. Killed on the order of his cousin Haakon, accounts of miraculous healings around the sites of his death and burial took hold and the Legend of Magnus was born. Eventually proclaimed a saint, his remains were finally interred in St Magnus Cathedral, built in his honour some 100 years after his death.
St Magnus Cathedral Graves on Orkney, Scotland
Highland Park Whisky Casks


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. It 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, one in three 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.


Our founder, Magnus Eunson, was a direct Viking descendant. 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 that the authorities finally caught up with Magnus – whisky was certainly being produced here 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. In fact, you could say we’re a whisky crafted in the old way by a new generation of Vikings.
Bothy on Orkney, Scotland
St Magnus Cathedral on Orkney, Scotland


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. 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 still see ourselves as a band apart – we have our own distinct identity, our own way of doing things and, of course, our own flag.
The New Kiln at Highland Park Whisky Distillery


We see ourselves as custodians of our distillery at Highland Park. 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 absolutely no hurry to replace it!

Our Distillery

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

Our Orkney Home

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