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Highland Park Dark Origins

(70cl, 46.8%)

Highland Park Dark Origins

Dark Origins Bottling Note

Highland Park Dark Origins is a new core bottling that celebrates the early days of Magnus Eunson's illicit distilling on Orkney, back before the distillery was even founded in 1798. Magnus worked as a butcher and church official by day, but by night he was a legendary whisky smuggler and distiller outwitting the exciseman.

To honour their hero (the Batman of the Orkney Islands, if you will), Highland Park have created a whisky with a suitably 'dark' character. Using 80% first-fill Sherry casks (20% refill) - 60% are first-fill European oak, with 20% being first-fill American oak - an exciting, spicy, chocolatey whisky has been produced.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt

Nose: Dusty baking spices and cocoa at first, cinnamon, vanilla, dates. Coffee cream Revels (possibly a couple of the orange ones too), a touch of blackcurrant/liquorice, plus butterscotch and an interplay between milk and dark chocolate.

Palate: Sweet, fragrant peat emerges with nutty melted milk chocolate and a little orange alongside some pastries.

Finish: Long and sweet, a little dry chocolate, just a hint of that heather smoke, then salivating.

Overall: Rounded first-fill Sherry notes come from both the European and American oak casks. This is a great, chocolatey addition of a (teenage) no age statement release.

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Highland Park Dark Origins Reviews

Never mind the marketing story, taste the whisky!

seriously good stuff at this price point. sweet oloroso influence and just enough HP smoke to make it interesting. Don't buy the anti-NAS hype, or the anti-Viking marketing hype (which I agree is stupid) . . . just drink the whisky. still available in places for around $70-ish U.S.

24th September 2019

Great trip to the Park

This is my first experience with HP.
Got the bottle as a birthday gift.
This is a somewhat heavy whisky which will be perfect for moments of relaxation and reflection.

In the glass: Nice amber colour. The smell of sherry og a tad of alcohol is first to hit the nose. Then sweet, ripe fruits and cocoa/dark sugar.
Left to breathe, the sherry and alcohol wears off a bit and give more room for the fruitier sweetness.

In the mouth: Fat, oily and sweet with a mild hint of smoke outlining a surprising combo of cocoa and citrus fruit. Oh - and sugars -soooo dark sugars carried by a well integrated alcohol.

The finish is medium long. It carries the smokiness with the alcohol for a wee while but is then taken over by the sherry.

This one just has a lot going on and a lot to offer. I do see it getting bad reviews from some. If this is a bad HP, then the good ones must truly bed mighty.

4th May 2019

Sweet, pleasant and lightly smoked

I could taste this one last night, really liked it. The nose is great, it is very sweet and welcoming on the palate, very enjoyable. It is quiet similar to the Amrut Peated, which is more fruity and complex, but has the same kind of flavour and dry finish.

30th December 2018


Smoke and Sherry with a lot of Chocolate and oranges. A good whisky. Underrated.

6th November 2018

Sherry with smoke, dried fruit and sugars. Long finish.

Complex, bold and very unique. Highly underrated.

29th June 2018

Re: Never mind the whisky, taste the marketing story!

I love HP 12 and think it's a great distillery from some of the videos I watched. But I have to agree: someone needs to "speak truth to foolishness" here. I will be skipping the new viking-themed bottles of the 12 and other hyped product. I understand the need to sell volume - so release a separate bottling or line just for "consumers" (who are mostly using it to melt ice anyway). Why re-brand everything? The malt geeks don't care about vikings but such marketing insults our intelligence, it reeks of pop product. We only want to know about casks, maturation, barley, still shapes, etc. Could the new "viking" HP12 be as good as the previous bottling? Sure. But I'll never spend my money to find out. Lame marketing like that actually repels me.

Oh, and why would anyone in Scotland celebrate vikings? They looted ya! :)

6th June 2018

Thanks for the calm

New to single malt (and scotch) Trying to acquaint myself with the fire and intensity. I like the nose and the finish mostly . I enjoy the slow relaxing feel of scotch. The savory coating of the tongue and palate. The resting in the mouth slow pace that pauses the spin of the planet for a bit. The experience in every drop is worth every cent invested. Seems to be extremely cost effective considering the small amount needed for a long sitting of enjoyment. Wine and others are drink. Good single malt is drips of sips and savor.

17th May 2018

Never mind the whisky, taste the marketing story!

To honour their hero (the Marketing toad of the Orkney Islands, if you will), Highland Park have created a whisky with a suitably 'artificial' character. There is no age statement, it's all about first-fill sherry cask influence, 80% of 60% plus 20% (some of which... might or might not be refill) minus the number you first thought of.

By night he was a legendary budgie smuggler, exciting and spicy, outwitting the poor whisky buyers. Oh, and he had a VIKING name. Did I say VIKING loud enough?

The whisky? I have no idea - its all about the marketing , see?

8th January 2018

HP Dark Origins

Wow, sherry and much more!

13th December 2017

Great for sipping on chilly nights

I guess it is not to everyone's taste. But damn I do enjoy it.

It's the perfect pairing with our fall weather. I love the different favor notes.

7th November 2017


Not sure how so many people didn't approve of this dram....honestly for the price it has a wonderful face full of sherry flavor. At first I thought that it was just decent, but I continually found myself coming back to it when it came time to decide what I wanted to pair with a cigar or even just have a night cap. For a non-aged scotch it is wonderfully smooth and the flavor is complex, while at the same time being pretty straight forward. I ended up picking up a second bottle, as I find myself calling this my "go to" scotch.

6th November 2017

Smooth and easy to drink

Smooth cherry flavour. I enjoyed it!

27th September 2017

I thought it was a pretty good scotch

Wonderful front chocolate and light smoke taste. Nice bold finish, a little harsh going down. Overall pretty good. Highland Park Loki is still the best!

23rd September 2017

Very nice

Highland park as always produced another fine liquid. Well rounded sweet finish, very nice.

31st July 2017

Lovely dram, love the thickness, but a bit pricey for NAS

Lovely dram, love the thickness, but a bit pricey for NAS

15th May 2017

Absolutely love it

Had always saw Dark Origins and I read some of the reviews on here and that had put me off. Eventually I decided to try it and I'm glad I did. It's up there in a handful of favourites! I absolutely love it!

4th May 2017

Very tasty but overpriced

This is my first NAS Highland Park and I'm impressed. Deliciously peaty without being overly smoky. Sherry takes over the finish. I appreciate the extra alcoholic percentage, which pushes back against the sweet sherry. Not as much heather or honey as the standard bottlings. This is a nice change from the 12yo. I love the black bottle too. My big complaint is the price. I do not like paying nearly twice as much for a NAS product. But HP is not the only offender when it comes to this.

14th February 2017

A disappointment

I agree with the previous post. The Highland Park 15 was my favorite whisky for a long time but this one fell flat. And as the previous commenter wrote it is even less pronounced than the highland park 12 year, which retails for much less. The smoke is all but gone and the sweetness isn't as remarkable without the contrast. It's also less viscous than any of their range. Its basically missing exactly what makes Highland Park so incredible. That being said, if for some reason there is no possible way you can obtain the Highland Park 12 and you get this one half price, its worth it.

13th February 2017

I was expecting more from this.

I was expecting some great things from this Bottle. I was at a tasting with a couple of other brands, of lower price and higher. I tried to like this, but right out of the gate it just stayed in the ordinary category. Its bland, has little character and is overpriced for what it is. The 12 yr old is alot better quality.

28th January 2017


I'm not an Highland Park fan after drinking both the classic 12 year and HP Einar but this was fucking amazing!
I got blown away by it's rich and delicate flavours.

12th December 2016


Nose and Palate were very much of shoe polish, which although not dominant was notably strong. I suspect that the cuts have been too low in this case.

12th November 2016


I'm not as big a fan of smoke and peat as some.
Bought the wrong whisky.... It's nicely balanced, though, and not as overpowering as some. Certainly doesn't taste like a hastily doused campfire, as a couple have; nor have a " swampy" effect from overly heavy peat.
Still, it's not really to my taste, and i won't be getting another bottle. Did recommend it to some I know who l like heavier peat and smoke.
Bound to be a favorite with many... But not me.

31st August 2016

Awesome NAS. Don't Get the Criticism

I thought this was a great expression. Perhaps a touch, a touch, harsh on the nose, but great otherwise. Thicker mouthfeel than the 12 and maybe even 15. Great sherry character while still maintaining the HP smoke. Big and bold. Doesn't taste as young and alcohol-y to me as some of the reviews that have been posted. I purchased for $70 at my local total wine and feel pretty good about that price. I've seen it going for $90, though, and that might be too steep.

5th August 2016

Love the peaty-ness

Great whiskey, I like the 12 year old more, but could get use to the dark

31st May 2016

NAS should be illegal....

It is a shame that the more people that start to enjoy a Scotch, like everything else, it just gets less special. It has become all about the money.... not the CRAFTSMANSHIP that people took pride in. I believe they are trying to get the public to accept NAS as a mystery product that intrigues more than satisfies. I found this Scotch to be good but not for the price. Who knows what's in it but I am sure it won't be long before the flavor profile changes. Anyway, just try it so you can say you did.

29th May 2016

I loved it

My new favorite under $100. Delicious, sherried whisky, with a lot of depth. I think I did taste the "harshness" that others note, but I'd describe it more as a bit of bite. To my mind that wasn't enough to be a negative, against the depth of flavor and the almost unctuous mouth feel and long finish. Well, these things are all a matter of personal taste. But I'm stocking up.

27th April 2016

Over priced and under aged

I would've given this whisky four stars had it not been priced twice that of their 12 year, which would fetch an easy four star rating, and at half the price. This whisky isn't as thick or complex as their other core bottlings, nor is it as aged; they should price it accordingly.

13th March 2016

The "dark" side of NAS whiskys

Had a sample of this and wasn't impressed. Harsh, uncomplex, nose and taste. Would be fine if it was priced for much less. The packaging and name of the whisky is utterly goofy, but it seems that people are duped by it and willing to pay extra for what is an inferior product. There are some fine NAS whiskys out there that have the decency to be lesser priced than the older single malts. This is not one of them.

10th March 2016

My new favorite

I see not everyone is enamored by this, but I think its my new favorite in the "affordable" range (under, say, $80 USD). Strong sherry flavor and very round in the mouth, maybe slightly harsh aftertaste (as the person below said) but more than made up for by the depth of flavor and warmth of the whiskey. Worth the few extra dollars from the basic HP, in my opinion. Lovely all around, but then, different strokes for different folks!

8th March 2016

Tasty variation on a theme

If you already like HPs 12 this one is similar but with some extra character - a great balance of smoke, malt, vanilla and caramel. I disagree with a lot of the reviewers here - it's well worth the little extra.

7th March 2016

Harsher than expected

The peat and smoke flavour are nice, but it's harsher than many others. Poured a round for my relatives after Christmas dinner this evening, and after 30 minutes was surprised to see that several people barely touched it.

25th December 2015

Overpriced NAS

A bit rough. Almost anything else you try in this price range is going to be better. I'd rather have the 12 year HP.

8th December 2015


Not what I would expect from a nearly €100 bottle. Without its marketing team, Highland Park would never be able to sell. There are spirits that sell by themselves, this is not one.
Mild sherry on the nose, some red fruit and more sherry on the palate, insignificant finish. Nothing rough or unpleasant, just anonymous.

17th November 2015

marketing ??

Must say the package look great,and thats all.was expecting dark rich malt,to match.whisky was poorlight in colour hotno depth. Id cladly give it back.sorry.

2nd November 2015

HP does it again!

This expression reminds me of HP 15, though both peat and sherry influences are more intense. I had expected the rich sherry cask influence, but I was surprised and delighted that the peat is an equal partner. Peat and mild smoke are immediately evident on the nose, along with sweet buttery syrup, malt, red berries, and a hint of vanilla. The palate is robust and complex. The peat and smoke are more pronounced than in other HP expressions, and is well integrated with the rich sweet tang of sherry. There is also a delicious spicy/peppery nip, bitter dark chocolate and tart cherry jam. The finish is incredibly long and sweet, with smoke and mild pepper. Balance is excellent. Dark Origins is only slightly more expensive than HP 15 year, and in my opinion well worth the extra cost.

24th May 2015


Box looked really nice in the shop, never tried a Highland Park before. Choose this one over the 12 yo because of the "dark" package.

The NAS is not really a problem when the whisky is good. But I'm a little dissapointed by this, it tastes rather young and has a, in my opinion, "chemically" sulfur nose. This isn't so present in the taste though. The smoke is really nice though, but it's covered/influenced by the "chemically" thing.

79 out of 100 malt points, considering the price that's just to low of a score.

If you like the sulfur, more chemically/medicinal drams then this one may be the one for you.

19th May 2015

Just buy he 12

This is a nice Scotch but is hideously overpriced. The 12 is just as good, albeit slightly less smoky and drier.

14th April 2015

Another worthy expression from HP

Every HP I've ever tried has been spectacular; the brand ranks among the best IMO. Dark Origins is no different. After having limited myself to journeyman brands for some time (due to a battered wallet), I splurged and got this for $79 USD. One sip told me this HP was leaps and bounds better than the journeyman brands I'd been sipping. This is true quality.

The price, however? I don't know if ANY scotch is worth more than $50, but I'll pay it if the mood strikes me. It did this time and I don't regret it.

The NAS? I generally agree that NAS makes a scotch suspect, but I've had quite a few of them that were definitely worth a repurchase.

I do think it's a gimmick to mature Scotches in flavorful casks for a few years, but it sure does provide a nice variety of flavors and expressions, so I think it's worth it.

I do wish they wouldn't be so damn greedy, however.

9th April 2015


I dont think this is a bad Whisky by any stretch but for the added price the 12 is a better buy and is just as good.

10th February 2015

marketing at its finest

No age statement?! Why is this seeming to be the new trend in single malts, what theyre really doing is selling us young whisky thats been matured in ultra exclusive casks at a ridiculous price and not expect us to see taste the difference. ..shame of you guys!! This is marketing at its finest, tell us how old your stuff is and stop the mumbojumbo bs! Basically what theyre doing is over hyping a product that is too young and immature abd claiming it to be something it's not! No age statement. .no purchase!

23rd January 2015

Very nice but a bit overpriced

I like the blend of peat, sweetness and smoke and loved the aftertaste which is a bit like sweet tobacco.

I do think it is a wee overpriced but still recommend this product highly

12th January 2015

price hamstrings a decent bottle

HP DO seems a bit heavier, peatier than the 12 and 18, and its taste is fine if a bit bitter, but a NAS £15 pricier than Uigeadail and not cask strength, and not as good? No deal. HP price policies in 2014 indicate a regrettable Macallanisation in process.

29th December 2014

I dont now

Overprised youngster.
Watery cocoa.
Soft peat.
But enjoyebal.

22nd November 2014

A great example of the future N/A statment whiskys

Love this new Highland Park. Big hit of smoke on the first sip but smoothens out into beautifully sweet fruit with a lovely long finnish. If N/A statement whisky is the future for Highland Park (and most other popular distilleries) I'm all for it. For me, Macallan got it wrong, these guys have got it bang on.

9th October 2014


This reminded why i fell in love with the Highland Park 12 year old of old (1980's)all those years ago, sadly for me the 12yo does not scale the heights of old these days so this is a welcome addition to the HP range.A big, rich aromatic spiced mocha of a malt with the trademark earthy yet sweet peat smoke with a lick of heather honey. Some lovely balancing notes of fig jam on toasted brown bread,star anise & waxy orange. Will be buying a bottle of this for sure and highly recommended for lovers of sherry & smoke influenced whisky.9/10

23rd September 2014

Hardly illuminating.

the big standard Highland Park is a pretty good bet. it's got a lot gookmg for it at a pretty good price. Dark Origins is a much harder bottle to praise. the price indicates it should be something special but unfortunately under inspection it's a pretty poor. it's got the usual HP flavour but the whole sherry thing just doesn't come through at the kind of level you'd expect. it's a nice drop but not £60 nice. The price and promise make me think there's far greater bottles for the same price or less. a bit thin, warming but ultimately lacking.

20th September 2014

Not sure about this one

Not as smooth as the Highland Parks I am used to. Good peat and nice chew but a bit harsh even with a drop of water

14th September 2014


Mmm.. yummy, yummy liquorice. Really liked this one!

17th August 2014


This bottling will form part of the core Highland Park offering, but it proved so popular at launch that everyone wanted to get their hands on it! More bottles have now come into stock and this will be a regular product on the site. --The Chaps at Master of Malt

12th August 2014


Is this a limited edition whisky, or will it be a staple in the HP range? I am shocked it is out of stock so soon.

11th August 2014

I love this one !

Very nice Single Malt

7th August 2014


Tried this at a tasting last night. Glorious dram! A couple of us were convinced it was a Bunnahabhain. Very surprised to hear it was a Highland Park. Lovely with lots going on! A yummy 9/10. (Although, it did split the room & wasn't to everyone's tastes).

5th August 2014

Dark story, light flavour

I tried this at Dramboree last month - the story and packaging is great (as usual from Highland Park). I was expecting a dark, bold, rich whisky; however, I found it was a little watery and subdued. Nice, yes, but at £61 a bottle, I'd either spend a little more and go for the 18 year old or spend a lot less and go for the 12.

5th August 2014

@The Mymic

Hello there! Yes, absolutely. The drams will be available on site later on this afternoon. --The Chaps at Master of Malt

5th August 2014

The Mymic

Any chance of this being available in the drinks by the dram option?

28th July 2014

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