Highland Park Releases $54K Bottle of 54 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky

A step into the future, inspired by the past

For more than 225 years, Highland Park has been crafting award-winning Single Malt Scotch Whisky in Kirkwall, Orkney. Established in 1798, it’s one of the oldest working distilleries in Scotland. While age, experience, and tradition define this whisky, its dramatic Orkney home truly sets Highland Park apart.

The rarest release to date, Highland Park 54 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, is the culmination of a legacy that originates at this remote, windswept, magical archipelago at the very edge of the Arctic Circle.

Valued at $54,000 USD per bottle, this exclusive production is limited to 225 bottles only, representing every year of production in Highland Park’s history. Furthermore, no two of these handsome presentations are exactly alike.

Toasting to the California launch of this extraordinary whisky at picturesque Cavallo Point, the lodge at the Golden Gate, beside Fort Baker in Sausalito.

Related: Why Highland Park Whisky Is a San Francisco Favorite

In what ways is Highland Park so distinctly Scottish?

In this ancient land where the core of the peat dates back 4,000 years, magic happens. It’s used to smoke the malting barley, contributing its unique flavor profile. And because Highland Park’s idyllic Orkney locale is integral to the DNA that makes Highland Park so special, the unique qualities of these tiny Scottish isles cannot be overemphasized.

From a place where salty sea winds batter cliffs along a rugged coastline, the elements go untamed, creating a rich liquid with subtle sweet-and-smoky flavors that are unique to Highland Park. Imagine this setting where the North Sea and the North Atlantic meet, waves relentlessly pounding a treeless landscape of heather-rich peat that provides an unmistakeable floral essence. The result is a wild harmony of contrasting flavors found in this single malt.

To underscore appreciation of the fiercely independent Orkney spirit that continues to drive the brand across centuries, from now through March 2025, every purchase of the exclusive Highland Park comes with a personalized invitation for the buyer to visit and experience the distillery’s Orkney, Scotland home.

What makes each presentation different?

Each of the 225 globally available Highland Park 54 Year Old bespoke oak wood boxes is wholly unique. The award-winning master craftsman and Glasgow-based designer, John Galvin, put each piece through a fuming chamber, resulting in pieces that are all ultimately slightly different.

The presentation case is sculpted to look like rock or stone, to represent the Cliffs of Yesnaby, created using Scottish oak. The doors are designed to look like wings, and to work with the beautiful glass bottle, with the natural materials and craftsmanship working in complete harmony. The inside of the box is smooth and the outside is heavily textured, reflecting the passage of time as landforms become weathered.

Some boxes have dark charcoal tones, sometimes lighter brown, along with beautiful blonde sapwood streaks, so you can distinguish wood from the outer part of the tree. The artist then created fissures in the front and back to reveal the amber glow of the whisky in the middle. 

Of note, while each bottle of Highland Park 54 Year Old is unique, the 46.9% ABV liquid within each stunning decanter remains the same.  

What is the maker’s process?

Originally laid down in 1968, the Highland Park 54 Year Old’s cask make-up consists of four refill butts and six refill hogsheads combined in February 2008 and refilled into first-fill European sherry butts, where the whisky was matured and then bottled at 54 years of age.

For its whiskies, Highland Park works in partnership with carefully managed forests to annually select European and American oak trees, which are then cut into wooden staves. The staves are then shipped to Jerez in southern Spain where they’re made into casks, filled with Spanish Sherry and left to mature for around two years, before being emptied and shipped back to Orkney to be filled with new make spirit. 

These hand-selected casks contribute up to 60 percent of the whiskies’ final flavor and 100 percent of its natural color. As a whisky gets older, more of the flavor will come from the slow oxidation conditions than directly extracting from the cask.

Intensely rich, sweet and complex

In particular, the Highland Park 54 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky has “intriguing aromas of exotic lychee and aromatic camphor, vintage oak and delicate peat, herald the exquisitely balanced flavors that follow. Warm spices – crushed cumin and coriander seeds – emerge and subside to reveal fragrant notes of summer rose and jasmine, with just a hint of honeyed kiwi fruit and pistachio biscotti. Sweet and spicy at the end, woody notes give way to a lingering whisper of sweet fenugreek and heathery peat smoke,” as stated in the tasting notes from Highland Park. And naturally, the result is 100 percent pure, exhibiting a deep rich amber color that commands attention.  

Images: Nic Crilly-Hargrave. Highland Park. Cavallo Point cover image by Anaheim Studios.