How many whisky distilleries are there on Orkney?

Answered by Daniel Conrad

When it comes to whisky production, the Orkney Islands are not as well-known as some of the more prominent regions in Scotland. However, despite its relatively small size and remote location, Orkney is home to two distilleries: Highland Park and Scapa.

I have had the privilege of visiting both distilleries, and I must say that they each have their own unique charm and character. Highland Park, located in the town of Kirkwall, is the older of the two, having been established in 1798. The distillery sits on a hill overlooking the town and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The whiskies produced at Highland Park are known for their full-bodied and balanced flavors, with a hint of smokiness and a touch of saltiness. I particularly enjoy their 18-year-old expression, which has a rich and complex profile.

Scapa, on the other hand, is situated on the southern coast of the main Orkney island. The distillery is much smaller in scale compared to Highland Park, but it has its own unique charm. I remember walking through the doors and being greeted by the sweet and malty aroma of the mash. The whiskies produced at Scapa are also full-bodied and balanced, with a slightly more pronounced maritime influence. Their 16-year-old expression is a personal favorite of mine, with its notes of honey, citrus, and a touch of brine.

Both distilleries take advantage of the natural resources available to them on the islands. The used in the production process comes from local springs, which are filtered through layers of Orkney peat and limestone, adding to the unique flavor profile of the whiskies. The use of traditional methods, such as floor malting and direct-fired stills, also contributes to the distinctive character of the .

In addition to their own expressions, both Highland Park and Scapa have released limited edition bottlings that showcase the creativity and innovation of the distillers. These releases often highlight different aspects of the whisky-making process, such as the influence of different cask types or the use of peat in the drying of the malted barley.

While Orkney may not have as many distilleries as other regions in Scotland, the whiskies produced here are certainly worth exploring. The combination of the unique terroir, traditional production methods, and skilled craftsmanship result in whiskies that are truly distinctive and memorable. So, if you ever find yourself on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands, be sure to pay a visit to Highland Park and Scapa and discover the wonders of Orkney whisky for yourself.