If you love your whisky, you may have seen his face or burly arms around the place and always with a Highland Park bottle. It was an absolute pleasure to finally meet the global brand ambassador for Highland Park, Mr. Martin Markvardsen, and to be asked to be the photographer for this industry series held at Mjølner in Sydney.

Martin was in Australia for a whirlwind week, relentlessly eventing during his stay to talk to media and industry about the roots and ethos of Highland Park. There was never a boring moment – his talks were peppered with hilarious anecdotes and heartwarming stories about the people within the distillery and the tasting lineup showcased the breadth of the range. We started with the brand new Highland Park 10 year old, the new kid on the block with its accessible fruity and light peaty characters, through to the old reliable 12 year old, the delicious 18 year old, the dram of the night for me which is the upcoming Valkyrie and then ending with the Fire and Ice limited editions.

The Valkyrie is part of the new Viking Legend series, a limited release (around 240,000 bottles). The nose is rich with orkney heather smoke, the palate full of dried fruits, and vanilla initially but moving back to a delicious spice and chocolate. Surprising with a beautiful progression, this dram will definitely be sitting on my shelf when it releases.

The Fire and Ice Limited Editions were never officially released in Australia, with bottles currently on sale here sourced from overseas. Fire was a port wine cask experiment gone wrong and then right, it’s pinkish hue baffling until you hear the story of Highland Park’s “uh oh” moment with this barrel. Ice to me is the stronger of the pair, not just because it sits at cask strength but because the palate moves through a range of flavours with a beautiful balance and viscosity.

Anyone who met Martin through the course of his Australian events can testify to his fortitude to carry through each tasting and appearance with energy and with a clear undying love for the distillery tattooed on his chest.

Martin was, of course, completely blown away by Sydney’s premier… and only…. viking venue. The whole team at Mjolner executed this event flawlessly and with a crazy efficiency including serving up some of the best dishes I have had there in my various visits. Kudos to Tom Gripton and Alexandra Dahlenburg and their kitchen, floor and bar teams for making this event run so smoothly and for making everyone feel welcome, even with this photographer getting in their way!

This album of shots sits at just under a 100 of finished photos, and you will see the hardworking crew at Spirits Platform chilling between sessions in here – events this big don’t just happen. A big thank you to Daniel Hutchins-Read who organised and hosted this incredible event.


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