Despite being Scottish, whisky has never been my go-to drink. It can be a very acquired taste, especially the stronger, smokier whiskies. But I’m always keen to try new things and learn from the experts, so I was excited to attend a whisky pairing dinner with Highland Park and Chop House recently.
Introducing Highland Park
Highland Park is a brand I’ve been aware of for years, but I had never actually tried their whisky before. Not being much of a whisky drinker, coupled with the fact that there are literally thousands to choose from, means it can be difficult to know where to start.
Luckily Highland Park’s brand ambassador Teddy Joseph was on hand to introduce us to a couple of their whiskies and a few different ways to drink them. We started off with a Kirkwall Copper cocktail which mixed Highland Park 12 Year Old with Oloroso sherry, Fevertree tonic and a slice of orange. This was a really nice, refreshing introduction to the whisky, perfect if you’re new to whisky drinking.
Throughout the evening we tried a couple more cocktails (including a Highland Park 18 Year Old version of a Manhattan) as well as trying the whisky neat. It was really interesting to have the whisky and cocktails paired with food as the flavours really did change and intensify depending on what you were eating.
As Highland Park is from Orkney, their design, flavours and heritage are very much inspired by their ‘Viking Soul’. At the event, we got a sneak preview of the new bottle design which is based on ancient Nordic wood carvings – the etched glass bottles look stunning and really make Highland Park stand out on the shelf.
Dinner at Chop House
As well as sampling Highland Park cocktails, we were also treated to a delicious dinner at Chop House. I had visited their restaurant in the Arches before, but this was my first visit to the original Leith restaurant. After enjoying some canapés at the bar (steak tartare and duck scotch eggs, yum!), we sat around the ‘Captain’s Table’ and shared a delicious feast which was matched perfectly to our drinks.
As the name suggests, Chop House focus on great cuts of meat, but they also do fantastic seafood too. For our starter, we began with a sharing platter of roast scallops in white port and garlic butter, shrimp tempura with bloody mary ketchup and oysters with shallot vinegar. The seafood was all fresh and flavourful, and it was the perfect light start to the meal.
On to the main course, and it was time for a sharing cote de boeuf accompanied by endless sides and sauces. All of Chop House’s beef, which is sourced from Shaws Family Butcher in the Borders, is dry-aged for a minimum of 35 days for maximum flavour. The bone-in rib was perfectly cooked, and I’d recommend trying the dripping chips, buttered greens, cauliflower cheese and béarnaise sauce along with your steak.
To finish off, we tucked into a cheese board along with a Highland Park 18 Year Old dram, and then enjoyed some salted caramel fondue with marshmallows and mini doughnuts for dessert.
Worth a Try?
Whether you’re a whisky connoisseur or not, Highland Park is definitely worth a try. I particularly enjoyed the Highland Park 12 Year Old which had light caramel notes. If you fancy something a little more hardcore, try the 18 Year Old for a stronger flavour or even the Highland Park Dark Origins for a richer, more intense whisky. Great both on its own or in a cocktail, Highland Park is available in bars and restaurants like Chop House as well as in shops so you can take one home for your own bar cart.
As for Chop House, I’d definitely recommend a visit if you’re looking for some of the best steaks in Edinburgh. With cool, industrial-inspired decor and top quality seafood and steaks, you really can’t go wrong. Find them at 102 Constitution Street and Arch 15, East Market Street, Edinburgh.