FOOD: THE ART OF BLEND­ING

By tak­ing cues from mu­sic com­po­si­tion and the con­trast­ing sea­sons, High­land Park is rewrit­ing rules in the world of whisky.

The Peak (Hong Kong) - - Contents - STORY JOANNA LAM

High­land Park is rewrit­ing the rules in the world of whisky

Nes­tled on Orkney, an is­land lo­cated at the north­ern­most in Scot­land, whisky dis­tillery High­land Park has been tak­ing the in­dus­try by storm of late. For its lat­est de­but, the Scot­tish dis­tillery takes cues from its wild cli­mate and nods to its dis­tinc­tive Viking roots. Dur­ing his re­cent visit in Hong Kong, Martin Mark­vard­sen, se­nior am­bas­sador of High­land Park, shares how blend­ing whisky is a lot like ar­rang­ing a sym­phony, how their whisky is shaped by the con­trast­ing sea­sons and why he loves to have a dram in the midst of raging winds.

THE SPLEN­DOR OF CON­TRAST­ING SEA­SONS

With in­spi­ra­tion drawn from the con­trast­ing sea­sons in the Orkney islands and the Viking her­itage, The Dark and The Light edi­tions ex­ist in op­po­si­tion of the spec­trum yet har­mo­niously cre­ate a bal­ance.

“The Dark talks about the short­est day of the year, the win­ter Sol­stice, where we only get one to two hours of sun­light in Orkney. That day is very im­por­tant for the Viking and the peo­ple of Orkney, as they know that as that day arises, the next day will be longer,” points out Mark­vard­sen.

Ma­tured 100 p per cent in Euro­pean p Sherry y Casks, the 17-year-old sin­gle malt is high on al­co­hol yet very gen­tle. Take a sip and a beau­ti­ful blend of cin­na­mon, spices, sweet­ness, dried fruits and dark choco­late will en­rich your taste­buds.

“The Light, on the other hand, marks the long­est day of the year, the sum­mer sol­stice, which is typ­i­cally on the 22nd of June,” says Mark­vard­sen. Shar­ing the same age as its counter part, it is ma­tured in re­fill Amer­i­can oak casks and re­tains a de­li­cious sweet­ness de­liv­ered through notes of pear, nut­meg and vanilla.

Pre­sented in a jet-black glass and a be­spoke pale green glass re­spec­tively, both edi­tions have a ser­pent dragon em­bossed on the front and fea­ture runic writ­ing, pay­ing trib­ute to the islands’ Viking an­ces­try and Nordic her­itage.

MU­SIC AND WHISKY

For those of you who are for­tu­nate enough to be read­ing this with a glass of whisky in your hand and some mu­sic in the back­ground, take a sec­ond to muse on the con­nec­tion be­tween the tip­ple and the melody. In many ways, blend­ing whisky is an art form just as com­plex, metic­u­lous and un­pre­dictable as a paint­ing, mu­sic com­po­si­tion or per­fumery.

In its lat­est launch of Full Vol­ume, High­land Park sheds light on the im­por­tance of har­mony that is ac­knowl­edged by both whisky masters and mu­sic com­posers. The essence of this new bot­tle, ac­cord­ing to the Scot­land’s most north­ern whisky dis­tillery, lies in the “bal­ance be­tween flavours and tex­tures of whisky all liv­ing in har­mony.”

“Full Vol­ume cer­tainly stands apart from what we nor­mally do at High­land Park, which is mostly in­spired by our Viking roots,” says Mark­vard­sen. The launch, an emo­tion-driven con­cept, took flight from a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the brand’s whisky mas­ter, and song­writer and mu­sic producer Saul Davies, who cre­ated a piece of mu­sic ex­clu­sively for the blend. “The in­spi­ra­tion is about hand­crafted mu­sic and [go­ing] back to ba­sics. The con­cept of this blend starts with one note and one in­stru­ment, and then build on top of that,” adds Mark­vard­sen.

A sin­gle malt dis­tilled in 1999 and ma­tured ex­clu­sively in first-fill ex-bour­bon casks, High­land Park Full Vol­ume de­liv­ers a light peaty aroma punc­tu­ated with warm fruity notes of mango and pineap­ple. The pack­ag­ing of the blend nods to old­fash­ioned gui­tar am­pli­fiers, with the di­als on the side in­di­cat­ing the dif­fer­ent mea­sures of Bour­bon, peat, vanilla and fruit flavours.

WHISKY DRINKING, REDE­FINED

As the brand am­bas­sador of High­land Park, for­mer box­ing cham­pion Mark­vard­sen knows a thing or two about the unique ways to en­joy whisky. “On the Orkney, there’s a very spe­cial place called The Cliffs of Yes­neby, which is lo­cated on the west part of the is­land. Imag­ine the edge of the world – it is one of the few places in the world where they mea­sure the high­est wind speed ev­ery year,” high­lights Mark­vard­sen. “To go there when the wind is heavy and to have a dram of High­land Park sim­ply en­thralls you amidst the wilder­ness of na­ture.”

On the up­com­ing projects of the brand, the Scot­tish dis­tillery wel­comes pi­o­neer­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions. “We have had var­i­ous crossovers pre­vi­ously with Miche­lin­starred restau­rants, cof­fee la­bels and now with mu­sic pro­duc­ers. Go­ing for­ward we want to break more rules by part­ner­ing with peo­ple such as tat­too artists,” says Mark­vard­sen, who hap­pens to have the logo of High­land Park tat­tooed over his heart.

04

04 The pack­ag­ing of full vol­ume nods to an old-fash­ioned gui­tar am­pli­fiers. 05 Martin Mark­vard­sen is af­fil­i­ated with The Dan­ish Malt Whisky Academy and be­came Keeper of the Quaich in 2009.

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