Back in October, during my visit to Orkney, Ian Moir, our most gracious host and local ambassador to the Highland Park Appreciation Society, took us to the Cliffs of Yesnaby, and the first thought that popped into my mind was that right here, according to Norse mythology, Thor brought down his hammer – Mjölnir – and created the cliffs.
I mentioned how wonderful the global whiskyfabric is, and how members of the fabric will go out of their way to share special drams with friends all over. I mentioned that I was able to taste the Highland Park’s Valhalla Series Odin and Freya and review them, but I didn’t have Loki and Thor. Enter my friend Jesper Thomsen, founder of the Highland Park Appreciation Society, who contacted me to tell me that he’ll get hold of samples of Loki and Thor for me. Indeed, Jesper came to meet me when I was in Copenhagen for a day, and had the sample of Loki with him, as well as a beautiful sample of a Braunstein single cask. Here’s my review of the Loki, and a picture of Jesper and me at the Storkespringvandet. We didn’t have time for a dram together, and that will have to be rectified!
Then last month, a beautiful package arrived from Jesper with a sample of the Thor, as well as another sample, of the Highland Park single cask for Denmark, the Braunstein & Friends I reviewed here. The Thor sample now completes my reviews of the Valhalla series.
So Thor was the first Valhalla collection released at 16 years old (The Thor and Odin were 16, while the Loki and Freya are 15 year olds). Highland park had no problem selling all 23,000 bottles, and the subsequent bottles in the series, each with 2000 bottles fewer than the previous bottle (thus Loki had 21,000, Freya 19,000 and Odin released with 17,000 bottles). Thor and Loki sold for £120, Freya for £140 and Odin for £180. Sadly, in last month’s auction, a complete set together with a longboat (a single wood rack for all four bottles) sold for £1600, so the quartet is doing its part in fueling the flip market.
Highland Park Thor, 16 Years Old, Valhalla Series, 23,000 Bottles (52.1% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Amber, thin legs peeling slowly off the necklace.
Nose: Heather honey and peat reek, with sherry notes and a hint of dried pineapple. Dusty wood spice, baking bread and a developing sourness on the nose.
Palate: Lovely bitter citrus, with orange peel, grapefruit, and a light peppery flavor. There’s a hint of sourness, and some dryness with the spice, with some sherry sweetness that comes through if you take a small sip and leave it in your mouth for a bit.
Linger: Dry, dusty and peppery, with a light hint of that citrus. There’s very little sweetness there. The finish isn’t overly long, and at the end of it you do get some of the residual bitterness.
This one is somewhat weird. It’s not a sherry bomb like Odin, nor is it the vibrantly clean bourbon casks Freya offered. It’s a Highland Park, but not as classic a specimen as Loki was. No, this is something different. It carries its age well, and works as a whisky, but the nose and palate don’t really match, although the palate is just to my bitterness adoring taste, something isn’t quite congruent. It’s a rough one. It definitely brings the hammer down on you, and as such, does Thor justice!
Which was my favorite? I think my answer will surprise you. It was Freya….