Rarity Club: Highland Park

The Vikings as we know them from history books haven’t ruled the Orkney Islands, off the northern coast of Scotland, since 1468, long before whisky was ever distilled there. But the descendants of those Vikings — who had been there since the 9th Century A.D. and who never left even after the islands were ceded to Scotland — still make the whisky known today as Highland Park.

Highland Park has officially existed since 1798, when Magnus Eunson’s still was officially recognized by the authorities, though he had already been making whisky illicitly for some time by then. A lot about whisky distilling has changed in the intervening two centuries and change, but some very important aspects have stayed the same. The barley is still malted with the same Orkney peat that’s been patiently aging for thousands of years — partially decayed vegetation absent of wood (there are no trees on Orkney) but full of aromatic heather, making the final product quite unlike any other peated whisky. The maltings are still done at the distillery, and the barley is still hand-turned, making Highland Park one of the only distilleries to still practice this age-old technique. Finally, the temperate weather, typically ranging from just above freezing in the winter to about 16 degrees Celsius (61 Farenheit) in the summer, is perfect for long-aging whisky, smoothing out the interaction between the liquid and the wood of the barrels.

Highland Park is known for its sherried malts — whiskies aged in European and American oak casks previously used to mature Oloroso sherry in Jerez, Spain. The sherry notes, combined with the aromatic peat, create a captivating flavor that’s uniquely Highland Park.

All this leads us to The Dark, the very special limited edition Highland Park that you’ll find in your package. If you’re not familiar with Highland Park, this is an incredible introduction. If you already know and love the brand, The Dark still goes above and beyond what you’ve already tried. Aged exclusively in sherry casks for 17 years and bottled at a hefty 52.9% ABV, the combination of dark fruits, slight salinity, warming spices and gentle peat make for an irresistible, unforgettable sipping experience. The bottle, made of jet-black glass and embossed with Viking runes and a serpent dragon taken from Viking lore, is almost as memorable as the whisky.

The Dark is a one-time-only release, limited to 28,000 bottles worldwide, that has already become quite hard to find. We think it’s a most appropriate way to launch RARITY, and we know it will set the standard for future releases. But for now, enjoy each delicious dram of The Dark, and taste the combination of Viking heritage and Scottish craft.