The Most Northerly Whisky Distillery in the World
Scotland is a gifted place for making whiskies. The cool climate is very suitable for maturing whiskies in the casks slowly and offering more elegant and rich flavours. The most northerly whisky distillery in Scotland and the world is Highland Park, which is located in the Orkney Isles on the 59 degrees north latitude. How does the most northerly whisky in the world taste like? Orkney Isles is made up of more than seventy small islands and the climate in the most northerly of Scotland is not the coldest among all regions. With constant low temperatures within 4-12 degree Celsius, this helps to create a range of rich and full flavours in the maturation process. I recently participated in Hong Kong Watch and Clock Fair that was organized by Wine Luxe magazine to be the speaker of Highland Park tasting and sharing 3 whiskies with the guests, including 12 year old, 18 year old and 25 year old. If the strong and medicinal flavours of Islay peated whiskies represent guys' preference and romance, then the elegant flavours of Orkney peated whiskies should represent ladies' preference and elegance.
The peaty or smoky notes of Highland Park is not pungent but elegant, it's like a feminine and sophisticated woman. If you don't like Islay's style, it doesn't mean you don't like peated whisky; maybe you should give it a try and see if Orkney's style is your cup of tea. With over 200 years of history, Highland Park is still using the traditional hand turn floor malting (only 7 distilleries still keeping this tradition in Scotland). The peat from Orkney Isles has more dried floral notes. All whiskies are matured in 100% Spanish sherry casks. All these elements have contributed to the style of the whisky to become gently smoky with sherry cask sweetness. 12 year old is easy to drink with fruity, orange, lightly smoky, dry flowers, honey and toffee notes. 18 year old is very balanced with honey, dried flowers, candied apricot, bacon, smoky and nutty notes. It's very rounded with ocean and mineral notes. This whisky has been selected as Best Spirits in the World twice. 25 year old has another style of elegance. It has won the Best Spirits in the World in 2013. It has raisin, cocoa, lightly smoky, mineral, toffee, walnut and honey notes. The finish is long and sweet. I'd pick 18 year old to share with my girlfriends at our gatherings, as I find it the most expressive dram in showcasing the style of the most northerly whisky in the world, which is gently smoky but surprisingly sweet!
蘇格蘭的確是釀造威士忌的好地方，因為氣候陰涼，很適合讓威士忌在木桶中慢慢陳年，味道更為細緻優雅。而位於蘇格蘭最北的威士忌蒸餾廠，亦是全球最北的威士忌蒸餾廠，正是位於北緯59度在奧克尼群島的Highland Park威士忌。到底全球最北的威士忌蒸餾廠釀造出來的威士忌跟其他威士忌有什麼不同？奧克尼群島是由70多個小島組成，位於蘇格蘭最北但又不是最凍，氣溫長期在4-12度之間，由於沒有太大的溫差，這會令威士忌陳年得更平衡並帶出更多細緻的層次和味道。早前於香港鍾錶展為Wine Luxe 酒派月刊同現場數十位嘉賓分享了Highland Park泥煤威士忌，一次過試了12年、18年及25年。如果艾雷島泥煤威士忌的那份爆炸力及醫院味是代表男人的浪漫，那奧克尼群島泥煤威士忌的溫文爾雅應該是代表女人的優雅。
Highland Park那份泥煤/煙燻味一點也不爆，好像一個很有風韻的女人。如果你並不喜歡艾雷島的風格，這並不等如你不喜歡泥煤威士忌，那你不妨試試這奧克尼群島的風格是否你杯茶。逾200年歷史，至今仍然是全人手進行大麥發芽過程（全蘇格蘭只有7間蒸餾廠仍保留這傳統），而泥煤是來自奧克尼群島，帶多點清幽的乾花香，陳年木桶全是100%西班牙雪莉桶，因而整體風格帶雪莉桶的甜美以及柔和的煙燻。12年比較輕快，帶果香、橙香、柔和的煙燻、乾花、蜜糖及拖肥等。18年非常平衡，更兩度獲得Best Spirits in the World， 帶蜜糖、乾花、蜜餞、煙肉、煙燻及果仁等，圓潤而帶海洋餘韻。而25年又有另一種韻味，亦在2013年獲Best Spirits in the World, 帶提子乾、可可豆、煙燻、礦物、拖肥、合桃、蜜糖等，餘韻悠長而甜美。我覺得同閨蜜聚會我會揀18年，因為它最能突出地球最北的威士忌風格是帶優雅煙燻而甜美的。