Highland Park Dark Origins Review

Highland Park Dark Origins Review

Highland Park Dark Origins gets its name from the origin of the distillery itself. You may wonder what kind of devious acts this “Dark Origins” is referring to. What skeletons does Highland Park have in its closet? What level of thievery, murder and villainous debauchery had to take place to birth this illustrious distillery? I’ll tell you… are you ready? It was distilling without a license!

Like many distilleries, Highland Park traces its roots back to a moonshiner (as we call them in the states). Though unlike many, probably most, Magnus Eunson, was a preacher by day and ran his illegal still at night. To commemorate this boozy priest, Highland Park Dark Origins is made using 2x as many first fill sherry casks as the current Highland Park 12 does. The next logical question of course is how many FFS casks is that exactly? Though that isn’t likely to be a part of the story we’ll ever find out.

Highland Park Dark Origins Info

Region: Islands, Scotland

Distiller: Highland Park
Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-Bourbon & ex-Sherry
Age: NAS
ABV: 46.8%

Price: $85

Highland Park Dark Origins Review


Fuity and malty with some sherry, oily nuts and ash. A light bit of smoke and sulfur round out a mild nose that lacks complexity, but isn’t terrible. Feels like more could have happened here, but didn’t.

Dark fruit, malt, nuts, ash and smoke with just a touch of spice, graham and suffer coming through on its way to the finish. Like the nose it’s not amazing by any means, but it’s also not terrible.

Medium fade of malt, dark fruit, ash and dark sweets.

Ok balance, medium body and a light oily feel.

I was excited when I heard about Highland Park Dark Origins, but all in all it’s rather muted. I was expecting more from it and I honestly like the current Highland Park 12 year better. While the current 12 isn’t as good as the old round or slope shoulder bottles it has a bit more depth of character than the HPDO does. Highland Park Dark Origins has an ok range of flavors and aromas but it lacks that defining character you used to find so prevalent in the older releases and maybe that’s a sign.

Maybe the Highland Park Dark Origins is both a nod to the past and a hint at the future. This is the (dark) origin of the new Highland Park style. This is what they’re going to be building themselves around and moving towards over the coming years. Or maybe I’m reading too much into the name and this is just another NAS expression of Highland Park, a hooded figured joining their Gods and heroes.

SCORE: 80-82/100 (B-, not consumed at home)

Highland Park Dark Origins Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 81
  • Palate - 81
  • Finish - 82
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 80


Highland Park Dark Origins is an ok whisky and worth a taste. I know some folks who absolutely love this whisky, but it’s a bit off for me. Worth a taste though if you can get it cheap.

Highland Park Dark Origins Label


Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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6 Responses to Highland Park Dark Origins Review

  1. I’ve had this and it wasn’t my favourite dram.

    I’m getting the distinct impression that a number of the big distillers are getting us ready for NAS offerings (MY KINGDOM FOR HIBIKI 12!). Everyone and their uncle now has a “distillers edition” (Oban, Talisker, Lagavulin, etc. etc. etc.). Elijah Craig just discontinued the 12, Jameson is moving away from age statements. We need to buy less whisk(e)y.

  2. Part of the reason why I’ve been spending my hard earned $$$ on bourbon is due to the growing number of NAS scotch, and the price hikes we’ve seen with it.

  3. A few days ago I found a 50 ml bottle for $5 at a local liquor store.

    Long story short – it reminds me alot of the 12 yr HP – good, but nothing spectacular.

    Now – I’m not sure if it’s the peak of the ‘NAS’ movement by the distillers, or if they sample their product too often, but when seeing the price of this whisky is $80 to $85 for a 750 ml bottle…Man – I’ve lost alot of respect for HP, and Scottish distillers in general.

    For alot less $$$ – I can purchase a few bottles of what I consider to be superior bourbon.

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