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Orkney-based distillery Highland Park has unveiled its new Single Cask Release as part of its limited-edition Single Cask Series. The Highland Park London Edition will be available in the UK from 11 September at an RSP of £390, with an ABV of 58.5%.

The launch of the 18-year-old London Edition sees Highland Park release just 642 bottles from a specially chosen cask in one of its 23 stone warehouses. The whisky, distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2021, is a naturally light, elegant golden colour, matured in a refill sherry-seasoned European oak cask hand selected by master whisky maker Gordon Motion.

Fans of Highland Park should expect the brand’s signature earthy, smoky tones from the new release, allied to a deep, rounded nose spanning vanilla sponge, oak and nutmeg. Flavours of pears, aniseed and rich cedar wood mark the palate, with a gentle peaty note and lingering sweet spice.

With casks contributing up to 60% of the flavour of Highland Park’s whisky, the distillery works closely with Spanish bodegas to source the finest sherry-seasoned casks available. Sherry’s relatively low alcohol content means it takes less from the cask, leaving more elements to influence the flavour of whisky as it matures.

“Some of our most outstanding single-cask bottlings come from refill casks, as they have often previously held whisky for only a short period of time, so have much to give in subsequent maturation,” said Motion.

For the Single Cask Series, Motion said he is “looking for the exceptional – a unique aroma, an outstanding character or simply a superb example of Highland Park’s uniquely complex balance of flavours”. The cask he chose for the London Edition was marked out by its particular marriage of “diverse yet harmonious flavours”, he adds, via a palate that features notes of pear, vanilla, nutmeg and peat. “When it comes to whisky that’s matured for 18 years and more, I have fewer casks to choose from so those in our Single Cask Series are, quite simply, the most exceptional Highland Park casks available.”

Highland Park whiskies are filled at approximately 63.5%, and during maturation they lose some alcohol and water to evaporation – the so-called Angels’ Share. As Motion pointed out, however, the flavours themselves intensify rather than evaporating. “By bottling at cask strength, we encourage whisky enthusiasts to experiment with adding water or ice to reach their preferred drinking strength and flavour,” he said.