Whisky Review: Highland Park Twisted Tattoo

, | January 8, 2020

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Highland Park. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

Highland Park, the most northern distillery in Scotland, is often a favorite among scotch drinkers. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard someone say that they didn’t like Highland Park. That’s a big statement for a big brand. They truly produce quality spirits, and have been doing so since 1789!

Highland Park also has an adventurous side, which undoubtfully comes from their proud heritage and harsh climate. Doing things their own way and pushing the boundaries is something that resonates well with them. For example, the warehouse team lead, Keith Moar, organized a rowing race that circumnavigated the 100 mile coastline around Orkney’s mainland in less than 24 hours. That isn’t something most people in the spirits making business can say they’ve done.

Twisted Tattoo is one example of many bottles they’ve released that has a unique story behind it. Tattoos have, arguably, always been a traditional trait of the Viking culture. To pay homage to that, Highland Park had tattoo artist Colin Dale design the bottles artwork. Then, to make it more interesting, they married whisky aged in Spanish Rioja casks with whisky aged in ex-bourbon casks.

Specifically, they took:

“153 casks laid down in between 11th May 2000 and 29th October 2001, filled into 220 litre first-fill Rioja wine casks in January and March 2016 at 59.5%.

70 first-fill bourbon casks from 1999, filled at strengths of between 63.6% and 63.7%. Casks married together September 2018 and filtered at 4o C.”

I’ll be honest, I’ve had to read that a few times to make sure I was clear on it. The wine casks are finished for around two years, and were most likely ex-bourbon before. Either way, this is definitely something interesting to give a try!

Highland Park Twisted Tattoo

Highland Park Twisted Tattoo (image via Cameron Holck/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Highland Park Twisted Tattoo

Vital Stats: 46.7% ABV, 16 years old, blend of 153 first fill Spanish Rioja casks and 70 first fill bourbon casks, chill filtered at 4o C. Around $90 for a 750mL.

Appearance: Pale yellow with an amber hue.

Nose: Coffee and vanilla, hazelnut, cereal, mint, orange blossom, melon.

Palate: Balanced on the palate, with just the right amount of alcohol to carry the flavors without being overwhelming. Light peat plays with vanilla, chocolate covered cherries, lavender and cedar spice. A nice wine-like earthiness is present from the barrels. Citrus and a bit of yogurt on the finish.

The Takeaway


This is a very nice whisky, but I think it lacks the ‘wow’ factor that I usually get from a Highland Park. One of the tasting notes on the bottle suggests a ‘full-bodied red wine,’ and I’m not sure I agree. There are some nice attributes that definitely come from that wine cask, but overall this whisky leaves me wanting a little more.

User Review
4 (4 votes)


Cameron Holck

After graduating with an engineering degree in Colorado, Cameron Holck discovered his passion for hospitality. He followed his love of the outdoors into the Pacific Northwest where he continues his dedication to bartending, and as a sales representative for Four Roses Bourbon. He warmly welcomes the fact that a night...