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Our Orkney Home

Soren coastline

BEAUTIFULLY REMOTE, GLORIOUSLY WINDSWEPT

WHERE THE NORTH SEA RISES TO MEET THE ATLANTIC OCEAN. WHERE RUGGED COASTS ARE LASHED SMOOTH BY SALT-LADEN SEA WINDS. WHERE HEATHER PEAT CARPETS MILE AFTER MILE OF WILD MOORLAND. THIS IS WHERE WE MAKE OUR WHISKY. THIS IS ORKNEY.

A cluster of islands scattered in the cold north sea

Orkney Coast

Ten miles from the northernmost reaches of the Scottish mainland lie the 70 or so islands that make up Orkney, only 20 of which are inhabited. These islands may be remote and the weather might be wild, but the climate is temperate and the people are creative, so it’s the perfect place for making whisky.

58.9847°N

Here in Kirkwall, on our Mainland, Highland Park has been distilled since 1798, on the same site where our founder, Magnus Eunson, set up his original illicit still at High Park. Our distillery lies almost in the Arctic Circle, on a latitude of 58.9847°N – that’s roughly the same as Anchorage, Alaska. In fact, we’re closer to Oslo than we are to London, but divided by mile upon stormy mile of water.

 

WILD IS THE WIND

windswept scotland

Our beautiful yet isolated cluster of islands is pounded relentlessly by winds that frequently reach speeds of over 100mph in the winter. No tree can survive such an onslaught. It means that our moorland peat is woodless but rich in fragrant heather, which give rise to the unique aromatic smokiness of our whisky. Here in Orkney, unrelenting winds make for unbelievable whiskies.

ONE SHOVEL AT A TIME

Soren peat stacking

For over 220 years, we’ve smoked our barley over 4,000-year-old peat, hand-cut from Hobbister Moor, just 7 miles from our distillery. No other distillery in the world uses peat like ours. Our dense, heather-rich peat burns slowly, and with an astonishing intensity, to create a complex floral aroma in our kilns – the origins of the intensely balanced, smoky sweetness found only in Highland Park.

A WILD OUTPOST OF THE VIKING KINGDOM

Viking Ship sailing

Early in the 9th century, when Viking longboats were leaving the shores of Denmark and Norway in search of new lands to conquer, they came upon Orkney. And so our islands were swept up into a vast Viking kingdom and ruled by a succession of Viking Earls from around 800AD until 1468.

ONCE A VIKING, ALWAYS A VIKING?

St Magnus Cathedral Orkney

The Vikings arrived as invaders but soon settled as farmers, traders and craftsmen, leaving their mark on our islands’ culture and character. Not only is the Norse influence evident in buildings like Orphir Round Kirk and St Magnus Cathedral, but a survey revealed that one in three Orcadians today have Viking DNA. Our core range of whiskies – 10 Year Old Viking Scars, 12 Year Old Viking Honour, 15 year Old Viking Heart and 18 Year Old Viking Pride – pay tribute to our heritage.

Did you know?

Map of Whisky Regions in Scotland
Orkney lies outside the five major whisky-making regions of Scotland and has only two distilleries – Speyside has 50, the Highlands have 33 and even Islay, covering roughly the same number of square miles as Orkney, has eight.
Orkney Flowers
Although the Orkney Islands are wind-blasted, our climate is surprisingly temperate thanks to the Gulf Stream with a lack of extremes (an average of 2°C in winter to 16°C in summer). Perfect for a long, even-paced whisky maturation in our island warehouses.
Orkney Peat
From the heathery Fogg layer down through the dense, compacted Yarphie to the ancient coal-like Moss, the core of our peat dates back 4,000 years. We cut it out, one shovel at a time… and occasionally with the help of a mechanical digger.

VISIT

The Vikings didn’t leave Orkney. They became part of it and part of us. Their story is our story.

Our Distillery

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

Our Whisky

Explore the depth, character and complex balance of our award-winning whiskies and experience a wild harmony of flavours in every one.