$$ — 43% ABV — 12 years
The second-most northerly archipelago in Scotland, Orkney is home to two distilleries: Scapa and the (very) slightly more northward Highland Park. Despite being such close neighbors in such a remote part of the world, these whiskies are immensely distinct from each other.
The biggest difference comes from the fact that while Scapa uses ex-bourbon barrels, Highland Park ages its whisky only in ex-sherry barrels. This is a wood that many distilleries — these days at least — use sparingly, mostly due to the pricetag. Highland Park and Macallan are the main two names that go full Sherry, but while Macallan carries a flavor that's downright Stevie Wonder funky, Highland Park is as silky as Norah Jones.
It's not overtly anything — peaty, fruity, salty, herbal — which is perhaps why Highland Park attracts so many fans. It offers a little bit of everything, garnering it a great deal of complexity without feeling too complicated. It's an easy whisky to appreciate, and for the price people are appreciating it all the more.