By Richard Thomas
Magnus is brand new expression from Highland Park and part of a larger repackaging and shake-up of the esteemed Orkney distillery’s product line. The name is not a reference to the Latin word magnus, meaning “great,” but instead is a homage to the distillery’s late 18th Century founder Magnus Eunson. The new expression is now the unofficial entry-level expression, an NAS whisky drawn from American oak Sherry cask and ex-bourbon barrel stock bottled at 40% ABV. It is available only in North America.
Magnus has a clear, golden appearance, as you can clearly see in the picture. A coat of the glass reveals a viscous liquid, with thick, slow-moving legs.
The scent of the whisky is very meadow-forward, with plenty of grassiness and heather. Add to that a hint of honey and toffee, and a whiff of smoke. Magnus has a silky texture, and rests on the tongue with a sweetness like a honey and graham cracker cereal. Notes of oak, cinnamon, ginger and smoke come on later. The finish extends off the smoky note, a light tendril that stays with you a short while.
Magnus is a good deal lighter than one might expect from Highland Park, but otherwise touches on most of the signature aspects of the distillery’s profile. Although not a spectacular pour, it has a good well-rounded personality, and is a fairly good buy (see below).
Expect to pay $40 for a bottle of Highland Park Magnus.