Taking a walk on the dark side : Highland Park Dark Origins


It’s not everyday that Highland Park (yes, one of my favourite distilleries) releases a new expression, and every such release is quite exciting. This time (In accordance with the current trend), they chose to release it as a NAS, and call it Dark Origins.

If you’re not familiar with the HP history, this name might sound a little weird,However they chose this name to after the distillery’s founder Magnus Eunson.

Establishing a secret bunker in the hills of High Park in Orkney, Magnus ‘Mansie’ Eunson became a famed dark distiller back in the late 1700s, creating whisky for the people of Orkney to offer relief from the villainy of the tax collector. By day he worked tirelessly in his church providing spiritual guidance to the people of Orkney, but in the dead of night, he hand crafted what was to ultimately become the best spirit in the world, warming hearts and uniting all who tasted it.

The name also related to the colour of the liquid, and to the method of aging: This expression uses twice as many first fill sherry casks than in the classic Highland Park 12 year old resulting in a naturally darker, richer flavour, however since it’s a NAS, it might also contain younger liquid, matured mainly in first fill sherry casks. You can like or dislike NAS whiskies, but you must give props to the HP PR people for a well coordinated PR campaign, sending samples of this expression to various whisky blogger / Press inside tea and cookie boxes, so as to “smuggle” the samples, very clever , guys. Well done.

Highland Park also put together a nice video, so before diving in, let’s watch it…


Highland Park Dark Origins NAS 46.8% , £61

Nose: Much creamier and chocolaty-ier than the highland parks were used to (12/18/16). Chocolate mousse. Almonds. Butterscotch and kirsch / berries and red fruit. But not to worry that signature hp heather smoke is there too.

Palate: Chocolate brownies and sweet yet earthy peat with a punch of nuts and butterscotch filling. Smoke. Raisins. Spices and rich sweet dough. A bit of an alcohol peppery bite.

Finish : Chocolate. Malt. Smoke. Heathery peat smoke. Lovely.

Bottom line:

There are good news and there are bad news. The good news is that this whisky does not feel too young (being a NAS), it’s lovely. It’s sweeter, chocolaty and smoky, a very nice combination. The bad news is that it’s not  twice as good as the 12 year old, but it costs more than twice… So, for me It’s very hard to justify a 60 quid price tag. Price wise it “sits” in the range between the 12 and the 18.

I know , i know… Fresh sherry butts are expensive, and this whisky uses twice as many as the 12 year old, yada yada yada. But, as a big fan of the 12, It’s by far better VFM than the Dark origins. Having said that, I’d really like owning a bottle, and the dramatic bottle design, might make it a brilliant present for someone who appreciates whisky, and is a HP fan, and does not own this bottle yet.

Score: 85/100

Official sample provided by HP distillery.

3 thoughts on “Taking a walk on the dark side : Highland Park Dark Origins

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *