Highland Park’s Latest Experiment, Twisted Tattoo, Is A Rioja Twist

Twisted Tattoo


If there’s one thing we’ve come to expect from Highland Park every time they launch a new product – such as the Twisted Tattoo – it’s an opportunity to learn about new icons in Norse lore.

Twisted Tattoo may well have been called Jörmungandr; OK, scratch that, maybe not such a good idea after all. For context, Twisted Tattoo is a collaboration between Orkney-based Highland Park and Danish tattoo artist Colin Dale, who specialises in the ancient art of dot-work tattooing – a freestyle, non-electric tattoo technique. He’s been called upon to create the bottle’s distinctive look, which is not only inspired by the Norse serpent and it also showcases his influences, which span the range from Nordic to Native American and Inuit cultures.

If you find bottle design to be the least of your concerns then you’ll be glad to learn that the whisky is just as interesting, if not more so. Twisted Tattoo marks Highland Park’s first expression to feature Rioja casks. This 16YO whisky is bottled at 46.7% ABV and is a blend of whisky matured first-fill bourbon combined with whisky matured in casks that previously held Rioja.

For those unfamiliar with Rioja, it’s a particular style of robust red wine made in the Rioja region of Spain using (mostly) the Tempranillo grape. Wine casks maybe something of a hit-and-miss for those who favour the more ‘traditional’ profiles of whisky and you’d probably not have tried any with a Rioja cask influence, but not to worry; we’re quite certain this one will be safe territory for most.

It’s familiar ground with the nose, where the familiar heathery peat that Highland Park is built around comes to the fore but this time around it’s accompanied by a surprisingly fetching peachy note. On the palate a rich vanilla from the bourbon takes centerstage, rounded off by red fruits. It’s certainly a style that’s lighter than what you’d come to expect, and it finishes strongly with a nice balance of peat and tannins. A satisfying, light dram, this is.

Unfortunately for something that’s easy drinking, what we gather is that Twisted Tattoo will be quite limited in numbers here, subject to global availability. Highland Park’s limited editions have always been tough to get hold of if you miss the boat the first time around. Right now the whisky is available to purchase from selected retailers such as 1855 The Bottle Shop, Simply Whisky, 3 Kraters, Fumee, Asher BWS, at a retail price from S$200.