Highland Park The Light

”I Saw The Light (I Think!)”

Whisky Review # 912

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park The Light
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Limited Edition - 28.000 bottles
Age: 17 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 52.9%
Maturation: Refill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 190-260 (April 2021)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👎Way too expensive for what it offers.
Buying Advice: 😐I'm too confused to give a buying advice.


Light Gold (Natural Colour)


Be sure to give this Highland Park a little time in the glass before Nosing and take care not to stick your Nose in the middle of your glass as there is some Alcohol to be found there. I also get a bit of this "West-European" New Oak Varnish and that is strange as The Light matured in Refill Ex-Bourbon casks. And not the most active ones by the way. The Nose is slightly on the Thin side and I'm starting to wonder if the sample I bought really contains The Light. There's hardly any Smoke around as well. My supplier is very reliable (Whiskysite Netherlands) and I must assume I got the correct sample though. Perhaps I'm confused by the fact that Highland Park usually uses Sherried Wood for maturation. In any case I wouldn't give it 17 Years!

Main Aromas:

Sweet Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Grass and Straw, Pears and Green Apples, Dried and Fresh Herbs, (New) Oak, Sour Fruit (Gooseberries, Plums, Grapefruit, Lemon), Cinnamon and Mint.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather Honey, Yeast, Campfire Smoke, Earth, Wet Rocks, Seville Orange, Floral Soap, Nectarine, Mango and Ginger.


On the Palate, The Light shows a bit of character with a mix of Sweet, Sour & Bitter notes. Again, it doesn't feel at all as a fully matured 17 Year-old Single Malt. I'm Going Slightly Mad as Freddie Mercury used to sing. Am I drinking too much Whisky or what! Well it is what it is or at least I hope it is. The Alcohol is quite strong.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Sour Fruit like Gooseberries, Lemon, Green Apple, Grapefruit and Lemon, Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Cloves and Mint.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Buttered Toast, Banana, Dusty Track, Toasted Nuts, Dry Earth, Campfire Smoke, Leather, Soot, Licorice, Dried & Fresh Herbs, Pear and Nectarine.


Middle-Long, Sweet, Spicy and slightly Hot. The Alcohol is certainly present. Some Sour notes as well and a light Bitterness towards the Medium-Dry end. I find Toasted & Malted Barley, Buttered Toast, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Resin, Toasted Nuts, Lemon, Seville Orange, Grapefruit, Gooseberries, Burnt Heather, Dusty Track, Candle Wax, Campfire Smoke, Peat, Green Apple, Oak, Fresh and Dried Herbs, Pepper, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cloves, Ginger, Menthol and Soot.

Drinking Advice:

Added Water does not improve The Light.

Rating: 83

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 20.5 - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Okay/Good


The distillery was founded in 1798 by David Robertson. It is located in the small town of Kirkwall on the isle of Orkney. Orkney is still quite strongly influenced by its Viking past & the distillery has increasingly used this past as a rather successful marketing tool. Highland Park currently produces around 2.5 million litres of Alcohol & is owned since 1997 by the Edrington Group. The core range basically consists of the 10 (Viking Scars), the 12 (Viking Honour), the 18 (Viking Pride), the 21, 25, 30 and 40 years, Dragon Legend and Viking Pride.

We visited Highland Park in May 2019 and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit despite the terrible weather. Orkney is a special place and I understand the tradition and the bond with the Viking ancestors. It's such a pity that the distillery regularly distorts this picture with mediocre, expensive "Cult" Single Malts based on that theme.

The Light, representing Spring & Summer was launched in 2017 together with The Dark, representing Autumn and Winter. The latter matured in Ex-Sherry Wood.

I can't remember having ever been so confused when tasting a Single Malt for Best Shot. Usually I know what to expect more or less based on experience. But not in this case. For the very first time I really doubted the contents of my little sample bottle. Is this really a 17 Year-old Single Malt Highland Park? If so I'm disappointed. The principal reason is the lack of quality of the refill casks that didn't give a lot of additional character to the Spirit. The low level of Peat/Smoke and the ever present Alcohol did not help as well. It didn't feel like a 17 Year old Malt. It's the first time I review a HP that matured in Refill Ex-Bourbon casks so that might be the problem as well. I simply did not get what I expected. In any case I must assume that the sample indeed contained The Light and that being so this Single Malt simply does not work for me. I didn't see The Light at the end of the tunnel!


Jan van den Ende                                                                            April 28,2021

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

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