Wild at Heart

Highland PaRk’s first foray into Malaysian territory

There’s always been something a little rebellious about Highland Park’s whisky, where each note speaks of the wild, untamed surroundings of the Orkney Islands. Perhaps it’s the heathery 4,000-year-old peat from Hobbister Moor that lends its sweet, aromatic smoke to the Kirkwall distillery’s single malt whisky, or its hand-turned malt, soaked in the mineral-rich waters of the Crantit Spring.

Even Highland Park’s origins, which date back to the latter half of the 18th century, are steeped in mischief: the distillery’s founder, Magnus Eunson, was a beadle by day and a smuggler by night who thrived on his sharp wits and resourcefulness (in fact, Highland Park Distillery stands on the original site of his bothy on the High Park above Kirkwall).

Martin Markvardsen, Senior Brand Ambassador for Highland Park, made an appearance at Charcoal in The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur recently to introduce three of Highland Park’s core expressions to Malaysian whisky enthusiasts. Cutting an imposing figure in a traditional Scottish kilt, the surprisingly soft-spoken Markvardsen guided guests through a whisky pairing dinner, featuring three dishes that highlighted each golden nectar’s distinctive traits.

An appetiser of Tasmanian salmon and trout ceviche with lime, mango and cilantro salsa was accompanied by the Highland Park 12 Year Old’s fruity, honeyed sweetness, with its teasingly smokey finish delivering just a hint of peat to the palate.

The richer, deeper Highland Park Dark Origin – the result of using twice as many first-fill sherry casks than the Highland Park 12 Year Old – was partnered with another entrée of charcoal-grilled smoked duck breast. The expression’s notes of toasted hazelnuts, ripe bananas, sherried spice, and warm dark chocolate brought out the subtle sweetness of the dish’s caramelised spring onions and apple puree, but retained its well balanced, harmonised flavours.

Rose-pink prime lamb cutlets sourced from Murraylands, Australia were served with rosemary russet potatoes, celery puree, and the Highland Park 18 Year Old – a whisky that quickly brought its toffee-sweetness and aromatic smokiness to the attention of the room, displaying a long, round, and uniquely mouthwatering finish. Proof, indeed, that it firmly deserved its title of ‘The Best Spirit in the World’ from distilled spirits expert F. Paul Pacult in both 2005 and 2009.

As a special treat to go with dessert – chocolate mud cake with a toffee pretzel – Markvardsen opened a bottle of Highland Park 21 Year Old to share with guests. It presented a key opportunity to sample the dynamic and intensely fruity whisky, drawn from sherry-seasoned American oak casks – one final example of Highland Park’s 200-year-old, unbroken tradition of whisky-making, showcasing its attention to detail, complexity, and unmistakable character.

Highland Park

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