When one imagines the Scottish Highlands, most think of misty, windswept landscapes, rocky mountain ranges and of course, Scotch whisky. What people don’t know is that there were once Viking settlements in Orkney (home of famed whisky maker Highland Park) and the Shetland Islands, which were part of the Scandinavian kingdom until 1468.

Nearly the northernmost point in Scotland, Orkney is not the easiest place to live. The climate can be harsh, reaching only 16 degrees in the summer and lows of 2 degrees in the winter, in a place where few trees are left due to the wild winds. Home to one of the most remote whisky distilleries in the world, this landscape lends an “aromatic peat” that gives Highland Park whisky its distinctive, smoky-sweet flavour.

To honour their Viking heritage, and in a nod to the history and people of the Nordic region’s rugged climate and landscape, Highland Park is launching three of their latest whiskies in Hong Kong called The Light, The Dark and FULL VOLUME. At a recent press event, we found the easy-drinking single malt whiskies to be full of flavour and individual character.

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The Light celebrates spring and summer in Orkney and was crafted in honour of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Considering the many long days of darkness in the area for the majority of the year, the summer solstice was considered a day to truly rejoice in Orkney during Viking times. A bit of a departure from the distinctive, deeper, full-bodied peaty whiskeys which Highland Park is known for, The Light was our favourite of the three for its approachable yet deceptively light, bright colour, with notes of vanilla, citrus, spice and honey. Aged 17 years in second-fill American oak casks, don’t let the light colour fool you, as it still delivers a whopping 52.9% ABV.

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The Dark is a celebration of autumn and winter in Orkney and is a more typical representation of the typical Highland Park flavour profile. Also aged 17 years but in European oak sherry seasoned casks, you can taste the richness of the sherry ageing in the deep flavours and sweetness with notes of pear, nutmeg and vanilla. With a longer finish than The Light, this one also clocks in at 52.9% ABV, but the deliciously sweet tinge and sherry aromas balance out the high alcohol content.

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For lovers of music and peaty whiskeys, FULL VOLUME offers both — a light, peaty aromatic whisky balanced with notes of cedar wood and tropical fruit including pineapple. Inspired by the skill and craftsmanship of music producers, Highland’s Master Whisky Maker Gordon Motion combined 481 individual cask types to create the ideal whisky flavour — similar to how a piece of music is made by balancing notes. With a finish of citrus, vanilla and some light smoke, this blend is 47.2% ABV but with an unexpectedly light and bright colour for the depth of the peat. Already available in Hong Kong in limited quantities (retail price is HK$784), it’s being re-released along with the others in this current launch.

For those who really want to live the experience and listen to the synergy of music while tasting the whisky, you can tune into the dedicated song written for FULL VOLUME. Inspired by old-fashioned guitar amplifiers, the packaging also features dials on the side to note the different measures of bourbon, peat, vanilla and fruit flavours which make it a fun gift for the whiskey lover in your life.

Source: Lifestyle Asia

Over the centuries certain red wines have commanded prices which have stolen the headlines and distracted from the wine itself. Whether it be due to an iconic cult label, a rare and highly prized vintage or a famous owner, the wines below must surely represent some of the most expensive liquid purchases in history.

Still-life with three wine bottles and glass over textured background
Still-life with three wine bottles and glass over textured background

Château Lafite 1787 – Bottle

This Grand Cru Classé (Premier Cru) Château has been producing highly prized wines since Jacques de Ségur planted the Lafite vineyards in the late 17th Century. Almost instantly it was embraced by the British as one of the ‘New French Clarets’, with British prime minister at the time, Robert Walpole purchasing a barrel of Lafite ever quarter throughout his term in office. However, it was seemingly not just the British political elite who had a love of this Bordeaux with Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States linked to a bottle of 1787 Lafite which sold to Malcolm Forbes in 1985 for a record-breaking US$160,000. Despite controversy over the provenance of the wine and its link to one of the founding fathers this remains the highest priced single bottle of wine ever sold.

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Penfolds Grange 1951 – Bottle

One of the most expensive bottle of Australian red wine ever sold, a bottle of the 1951 vintage of Penfolds Grange reached a staggering $43,700 in 2004 at an auction held by Australia’s leading wine auctioneers, Langton’s. Produced on an experimental basis by the late Max Schubert, who was Chief Winemaker for Penfolds from 1948 to 1975, this first ever vintage was of just 160 cases and not commercially released. This bottle of Grange Hermitage 1951 was brought to auction as part of a vertical collection of Penfolds Grange spanning from 1951 through to 1990. The complete lot selling for an impressive AU$138,000.

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Screaming Eagle 1992 – Imperial

During the annual Napa Valley Wine Auction in 2000, an Imperial of Screaming Eagle Cabernet 1992 raised a colossal US $500,000 for charity. Screaming Eagle, which is considered by many to be a cult wine producer, make extremely small quantities of their wine in general but the 1992 vintage was produced in particularly low volumes. This scarcity together with outstanding reviews from wine journalists, including Robert Parker, have made this wine one of the most celebrated in the world.

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Château Mouton-Rothschild 1945 – Jeroboam

Sold to an anonymous bidder at a Christie’s auction in 1997 for US $114,614, the 1945 vintage is considered, to this day, to be one of the finest vintages of the 20th century. It was in 1945, and to celebrate the Allied victory and the end of the Second World War, that Baron Philippe de Rothschild started the tradition of commissioning an artist to design each vintage’s label. This first embellished label, designed by a then unknown artist, Philippe Jullian, is based on the V for victory which was made famous by Churchill as he rallied the troops throughout the course of the conflict. A legendary wine from a legendary vintage.

Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Romanee-Conti 1990 – Case of 8 Bottles

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti enjoys a reputation as the world’s finest Pinot Noir, with a price commensurate with such an accolade. Production is always limited, not just because of the strict yields imposed by the appellation, but due to the desire to capture intense fruit flavours in every berry. This complex and elegant wine is produced on a tiny parcel of just 1.8 hectares where the vines are on average over 50 years old. With 8 bottles selling at Sotheby’s in 1996 for US $224,900 we can see that the reputation and quality of the wine are only matched by the sums people are prepared to pay for this rare jewel.

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Château Margaux 2009 – Balthazar – USD

Yet to sell, but on offer for US $195,000 at Le Clos’ flagship wine merchants in Dubai International Airport, are three 12-litre bottles of 2009 Château Margaux. Considered one of the finest vintages ever produced by the estate, and undoubtedly one of the best since the Mentzelopoulos family took over the property in 1977, this is the first time that Château Margaux has been bottled as Balthazars. Presented in an impressive oak case, each bottle, which has also been embellished with gold engraving, comes with a first class ticket to France to visit the Château, where the lucky buyer will enjoy a private tour of the cellars and vineyard before a private dinner hosted by Paul Pontallier, Château Margaux’s chief winemaker.

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Source: Fine Wine

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While some enjoy spending their holidays in the quietness of the mountains and others prefer hearing the waves breaking on the beach, to wine lovers there is no better place for a retreat than in the middle of rolling hills and beautiful vineyards. From Spain to South Africa, through Italy and France, some very impressive properties offer the opportunity to those seeking a top-notch wine related experience to enjoy the vacation of a lifetime.

1. Villa La Verriere, Provence, France

Nestled in a quiet corner of Provence, Villa La Verriere is a sunning private estate immersed in a lush forest. The medieval priory has been turned into a picture perfect residence and has been restored to offer the highest standards of luxury and comfort. Guests can play tennis, explore the beautiful surroundings by bike or simply relax by the pool: everything about this property invites to rest and relax. Guests will also be treated to wine tastings and oenology experiences – a real plus for those who enjoy good French wines.

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2. Lothian Estate, Cape Town, South Africa

Ideally located on the banks of the Palmiet River near Cape Town, this unique estate can boast its own private lake with beautiful views of the Elgin Valley. Surrounded by beautiful manicured gardens, fruit orchards and vineyards, the villa is spacious and designed with comfort in mind, while the outdoors area is perfect for having fun: from jet skis to ski boats to paddle boards there is something for everyone. And then, of course, guests can also have fun in the beautiful wine cellar, where they can taste and learn to appreciate the best local wines.

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3. La Tavernaccia, Tuscany, Italy

A classic Renaissance style villa, La Tavernaccia is located in a beautiful estate, 23 acres of which are planted with vineyards and olive groves. Close enough to Florence to be easily accessible, this villa’s tower offers beautiful views of the Tuscan countryside that range from Fiesole to Volterra: on clear days you can even expect to see Giotto’s bell tower and Brunelleshi’s dome. Of course, since this area is famous for its delicious Chianti, super Tuscan and Brunello, this villa is an ideal destination for those who want to taste only the best wines Tuscany has to offer, along side some great local recipes.

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4. Villa Capodilista, Veneto, Italy

This handsome villa, perched on the Montecchia hill, sits in the middle of the Regional Park of the Euganians Hills and is a haven of beauty and tranquility. Deigned as a hunting lodge in 1568, today the villa offers all modern comforts while retaining a unique historical atmosphere. The property is surrounded by well-manicured gardens lined with bushes and roses, perfect for strolling and enjoying some fresh air. The estate also produces several top notch wines which have won prestigious awards: guests can participate to wine tastings in the villa’s cellars and the can also visit the vineyards and learn about wine production.

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5. Villa Cugo Gran, Menorca, Spain

A brand new villa, Cugo Gran has opened its doors in 2015 and offers stunning views of the Mediterranean from its privileged location on Menorca.  The villa staff works hard at delivering the best Spanish island experience to the villa’s guests, who can enjoy a variety of activities, from lounging by the swimming pool to tasting some of the best Mediterranean cuisine. Grapes coming from the Cugo Gran vineyard are used to produce some delicious wines at nearby Sa Forana Estate, a real treat for those who love Spanish wines.

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Source: Luxury Travel Blog