A journey of taste and tradition: SA chefs explore the dynamic flavour profiles of Highland Park Whisky


Highland Park, hailing from Scotland’s remote Orkney Islands, is a single malt scotch whisky renowned for its unique spice, smoke and sweet character. Aged in sherry-seasoned casks, each dram whispers tales of Viking heritage and the rugged island landscape where it is produced. Single malts are made from 100% malted barley and must come from one distillery to be categorised as such.

The aromas and flavours typically associated with Scotch whisky include fruity, sweet, spicy and peaty. To determine a whisky’s flavours, drop a bit into your palms and rub them together until the liquid evaporates. The scents left behind will indicate the ingredients used. Generally, richer whiskies have nuttier, deeper flavours and spicy aftertastes. Lighter whiskies usually bring out greener, fruitier flavours.

Highland Park’s legacy rests upon five unwavering keystones, meticulously upheld since 1798:

Hand-turned floor maltings: Imagine the rhythmic turning of malted barley, ensuring optimal airflow and precisely 5% moisture during malting. This labour-intensive process infuses Highland Park with the essence of Hobbister Moor peat – a gentle smokiness that whispers of the wild.

Sherry oak casks: A marriage of tradition and flavour. Highland Park matures in sherry-seasoned oak casks, imparting notes of dried fruits, warm spices, and a touch of magic.

Cool maturation climate: Orkney’s chill embraces each cask, allowing time to weave its intricate tapestry of flavours. The whisky ages gracefully, like a seasoned storyteller.

Natural spring water: Drawn from the Cattie Maggie spring, this pristine water flows through ancient sandstone layers, adding purity and character to Highland Park.

Woodless Peat: Unlike its Islay counterparts, Highland Park’s peat comes from Hobbister Moor – woodless and subtle. It harmonises with the whisky, never overpowering.

Food pairing

You may be accustomed to enjoying a Scotch before or after a meal, but matching whisky with food can be a unique experience. Eat Out enlisted five top South African chefs known for their open-fire cooking, to create a dish and pair it with a different Highland Park Whisky. Here’s what they came up with!

Anouchka Horn from Belly of the Beast and Galjoen in Cape Town

Highland Park 15 Year Old served with braaied venison tataki, bone marrow, baba ghanoush and roostekoek

Highland Park 12 Year Old served with flan with braaied pineapple, caramelised ideal milk and gem flowers

Braaied venison tataki


Flan with braaied pineapple

David Higgs from Marble Group in Johannesburg

Highland Park 12 Year Old served with salmon gravadlax with pickled radishes, smoked labneh and pickled cucumber

Highland Park 21 Year Old served with wagyu sirloin, harissa aubergine, marinated olives and beef jus

chef david higgs

Salmon gravadlax

david higgs

Wagyu sirloin

Vusi Ndlovu of EDGE Restaurant and MLILO at Time Out Market Cape Town

Highland Park 12 Year Old served with cabbage with smoked lamb belly and whisky-cured egg yolk

Highland Park 15 Year Old served with slow-roasted cauliflower with anchovies and lemon


Cabbage and smoked lamb belly with whisky-cured egg yolk


Slow-roasted cauliflower with anchovies and lemon

Jesper Nilsson from ëlgr in Cape Town

Highland Park 18 Year Old served with grilled lamb ribs, salsa verde, hazelnuts and lemon

Highland Park 12 Year Old served with grilled aubergine, sumac yoghurt, pine nuts, mint and cumin

chef Jesper Nilsson

Grilled lamb ribs

Grilled aubergine

Shaun Scrooby from VUUR and VUUR Goose Island in Stellenbosch

Highland Park 18 Year Old served with dry-aged Nguni T-bone with a whisky, garlic and thyme compound butter

Highland Park 12 Year Old served with flambadou chicken skewers with whisky, honey and orange sauce

Dry-aged Nguni T-bone

Flambadou chicken skewers

For nearly 250 years, Highland Park has honoured tradition in the creation of its distinctive whisky. Let its keystones, its symphony, and its wild spirit transport you.

Slàinte mhath!

Tasting notes:

Highland Park Viking Honour (12 Year Old): A brisk walk along Orkney’s cliffs –honeyed sweetness, floral whispers, and a touch of heather smoke.

Highland Park Viking Pride (18 Year Old): Layers unfold – a rich tapestry of dark chocolate, dried fruit, and a gentle peat breeze. Sip slowly; let time reveal its secrets.

Highland Park 15 Year Old: A bridge between youth and maturity. Expect elegance, hints of spice, and a symphony of oak.

Highland Park 21 Year Old: A grand crescendo. Complexity dances with grace – orchard fruits, vanilla, and a lingering warmth.

Leave a comment

Promoted Restaurants