Whitlaw 2009

This cask has just celebrated its 12th birthday, and was re-gauged in November 2020 at 57.2% ABV. This is extremely encouraging for potential buyers as this cask has the potential to be matured to an age not often seen in independent casks from this much-loved distillery.

Auction estimate: £10,000 – £12,000

Auction has ended. The winning bidder has been notified.

Cask Details

DistilleryHighland Park
Age12 years
Distillation DateMay 5, 2009
Cask TypeHogshead
Re-gauge ABV57.20%
Re-gauge Litre of Alcohol (RLA)124.80 litres
New Bulk Litres218.20 litres
Re-gauge DateNovember 2020
Cask Number1116

The Wood

It is worth considering that this distillery has demonstrated time and time again that their whisky can benefit from an extremely long maturation without having to sacrifice strength; the year prior to this cask being filled, a pair of 40 year old expressions were released both with an ABV approaching 50%.

Owners Edrington have built up excellent relationships with suppliers of both ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks and have a system of selection to ensure that it is only the best-in-class casks that hold spirit from distilleries within its portfolio. The mellowed honey notes from patient hogshead maturation get deeper over time. This high quality of oak allows for that process, as the volume of liquid will be greater when the spirit is ready to bottle, when compared to that of a regular barrel.

The Spirit

The water used in the production of this spirit is drawn from Cattie Maggie’s Spring, half a mile away from the distillery – it is held in a disused Walliwall quarry before being piped to the distillery. This spring provided an oasis for generations of distillers on Orkney well before the establishment of an official distillery.

The peat used is cut from the roughly 500 year old Hobbister Moor, a stretch of land maintained by the distillery. The lack of trees on Orkney encourages the peat to form mostly from heather, giving the spirit a distinctly floral and heathery smokiness. Projections based on current usage show that this source of peat is likely to last for a further 300 years.

This distillery is one of only seven in Scotland to still make partial use of its own floor malting – an impressive achievement considering the significant production capacity of 2.5 million litres of alcohol per year, and the fact that 20% is still malted in this traditional fashion.

The Masters

The distillery manager when this cask was filled was Russell Anderson, whose career in whisky began over 30 years ago, in 1978, at The Glenrothes distillery. He enjoyed a brief spell on Orkney from 1995 – 1998 and then returned as distillery manager in 2000 where he remained for 12 years, before moving on to become distillery manager for Macallan.

“I will always have a special place in my heart for Highland Park and of course it is a great dram!”

— Russell Anderson 2012

During his time on Orkney, Russell Anderson was responsible for every aspect of production at the distillery and additionally worked closely with the brand team to promote his product around the world.

The Verdict

In addition to the unique spirit of this distillery, their modernised approach to marketing has allowed them to permeate into further markets. An example of this is the renaming of their core range with reference to the Vikings who settled on Orkney and an increase in non age statement whisky.

This cask has just celebrated its 12th birthday, and was re-gauged in November 2020 at 57.2% ABV.This is extremely encouraging for potential buyers as this cask has the potential to be matured to an age not often seen in independent casks from this much-loved distillery.

Tasting Notes

“A whiff of this whisky and you are instantly transported to the peaty, boggy marshes of Orkney – but with an element of the unexpected. It’s like you walk across the bog, through the hay-scented farmyard and into the peat-stained farmhouse only to find a bowl of cut apricots on the kitchen table. On the palate the flavours are stronger: slightly burned stonebaked pizza dough, herbs like thyme and a sweeter vanilla finish. With water this whisky gets sweeter still and starts to remind me of highland toffee.”

Peter Adams,
Edinburgh Distiller

About The Distillery

If whisky had existed at the time the Vikings ruled the seas, there’s little question that malt from the islands of Orkney would have been the whisky that gave them the courage to embark on expeditions and the loquacity to spin tales of their deeds long into the night.

Distilled on the Orkney islands off the north coast of Scotland, the whisky is suffused with the traditions, iconography and myths of the region. The landscape around the distillery is stark and treeless – a place where the green of grassy hills rolls straight into a profound blue ocean. For half the year, the Orkneys are bathed in pale northern sunlight, the other half plunges them into cold and sentimental night. It is a place where one can truly imagine that Norse Gods and animal spirits stalk the clifftops and hide behind the cresting waves.

In the middle of all this, this malt offers a beautifully mellow dram – sweet and honeyed, perhaps reminiscent of the Norsemen’s mead that predated it. The peat drawn from the local treeless moors is floral and dry when burned – a perfect highlight to this more gentle style.

Buyer’s note: Whitlaw is a pseudonym for a secret Orkney distillery. When bottled, the label may refer to the distillery brand name as such: “distilled at Highland Park distillery’, as long as it’s not overly prominent.

Buyer’s note: We cannot offer a photo of this cask due to the regulations on Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations that are imposed in the warehouse.


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Auction Details

  • Bidding will end on June 6th at 5:00pm BST subject to continuation defined below.
  • If any bid is received within the last 5 minutes of bidding across any of the current auction listings, the entire auction will be extended for an additional 5 minutes. The auction will officially close when a period of 5 minutes has passed without a new bid.
  • All bids represent a legally binding contract to purchase the designated item.
  • The highest bidder at conclusion of the auction will immediately be charged a £500 deposit by credit card; the remaining balance will be due within 72 hours of auction close by bank wire transfer.
  • Failure to send proof of payment within 72 hours will result in a penalty of 1% of the hammer price for each day the payment is delinquent.
  • Upon verification that all funds due have been received, ownership of the cask will be transferred to the buyer and the buyer will be sent a title certificate. As per Scottish regulations, the cask must remain in a government bonded warehouse until bottling.
  • No samples will be provided during the auction.
  • If two bidders place a bid in the same amount, the first bid placed will be the winner.
  • Storage will be included for a period of 3 years from the conclusion of the auction. All other costs related to storage, removal from storage, insurance, transportation, bottling and duties/taxes will be the sole responsibility of the buyer.
  • A reserve price has been set for the auction. If the reserve price is not reached then the seller, in their sole discretion, can choose whether to accept the high bid or may offer a counter offer. All bids placed by buyers are binding, even when the reserve price has not been met, until the seller declines the highest bid.
  • A 10% buyers premium will be added to the highest prevailing bid. No buyers premium will be due if the reserve price is not met and the seller choses not to accept the high bid.