This is a complete set of Valhalla Collection:
The beginning of a new range of four whiskies from Highland Park, The Valhalla Collection, showing off Orkney's ancient links with Scandinavia and the distillery's love of history. First up is Thor, God of Thunder and alleged architect of the Cliffs of Yesnaby on the west coast of Orkney Mainland. It's a 16 year old whisky bottled at a full proof of 52.1% and presented in a wooden frame styled after the prow of a viking longboat.
The second entry in Highland Park's Valhalla Collection is a whisky representing the shape-shifting nature of Loki, the trickster. Aged for 15 years and presented in the collection's Viking longship inspired wooden frame, it's a whisky that changes between nose and palate, and shifts around in the glass.
The third in Highland Park's Valhalla Collection, Freya is named for the Norse goddess associated with fertility, wealth and war. The whisky yet again aims to take on the character of its namesake, with sweetness and tropical fruit backed up by gentle peat smoke.
The long-awaited fourth and final entry in Highland Park's The Valhalla Collection. Odin (aka 'The Furious One'), is a rich and dark whisky with the distillery's trademark sweet and gently peaty character. Aged for 16 years in a combination of first-fill sherry casks and refill hogsheads, this is one not to miss.
Highland Park 16 Years - Valhalla Collection - Thor
Colour: gold. Nose: starts rather on red berries and discreet whiffs of rubber bands, before it gets rather more mineral, flinty, quite smoky (rather coal than peat) and then more and more herbal, earthy and spicy. In short, it seems that it’s not one of these lush, rounded and honeyed HPs (although there is a little honey), it reminds me of one of the Ambassador’s Casks but I can’t remember which one… Then more butterscotch, caramel and something slightly metallic. With water: the earthiness stands out and the rubber has vanished, completely. Farmyard, slightly gamy, ham, Havana cigar (very obvious) … It swims very well, the nose really became wonderful with water.
Mouth (neat): quite punchy and rather more ‘classic HP’ now, with quite some honey, toffee, caramel, soft gingerbread (the one with a lot of honey) and a very faint saltiness. Develops more on pepper, ginger, nutmeg and liquorice, with always a discreet smokiness in the background. Creamy mouth feel. With water: once again, water makes wonders, even if a few drying tannins woke up. Perfect hard liquorice. Excellent, did they dump some salmiak into the vatting to make it even more ‘Norse’? Finish: long, with the liquorice still loud and clear. A little cumin and bitter oranges in the aftertaste. Comments: this little Viking never stopped improving, from the first sniffs to the aftertaste – and it swims extremely well. Not 90 in my book but certainly 89+++, should I use plusses like Standard & Poor's ;-). SGP:453 - 89 points.
Highland Park 15 Years - Valhalla Collection - Loki
So the sequel to last year’s Thor and let me tell the most stupid joke ever: I hope it’s not low key (diving to even newer lows, S.!) Colour: gold. Nose: not a very different profile, in fact we’re almost right between the 10 and the CS. Actually a little closer to the 10. It’s less cask-driven than last year’s Thor, it’s cleaner, it’s probably more citrusy and certainly more mineral as well as a little medicinal, between iodine and camphor. Some farmy elements as well, something obviously coastal, a blend of various honeys and honeydews, then Virginia tobacco, leather, wax, a few spices (curry?), tiger balm… Mouth: no, this is great shtuff. Perfect, zesty and lemony yet rich, mineral yet honeyed, wide yet crystalline, coastal yet farmy (that will be it, S.) It’s a HP that’s more islands than highlands, whatever that means. And I’m not saying this because these weeks it’s the 30th anniversary of Brora’s closure, but it is also pretty Brora-esque, in a way. No, I know Brora isn’t on an island, don’t start to quibble with me over trivial issues please. Finish: long and even more coastal. Comments: look, I know I should write lukewarm comments because of the price, because of the unlikely packaging (sure it’s all a matter of taste) and so on, but I’m sorry, I love it. Now, who’s that Loki? A girl? What’s sure is that she beats Thor in my book, fair and square. SGP:464 - 92 points.
Highland Park 15 Years - Valhalla Collection - Freya
I know, I'm very late. Apparently, Freya used to be the Norse goddess of love. Why not choose a pink bottle then, instead of this Flubber green? Colour: white wine. Nose: it is Highland Park au naturel, close to the barley, with some beer, some leaven, some mashed vegetables, some barley water, some almonds and then touches of melon skin (not the flesh), apple peelings and cut grass. I find it pretty austere and very ‘Northern Highlands’, and even a little old skool. With water: even more grains, as well as a little wood smoke. Notes of greengages bring a little fruitiness. Mouth (neat): a little pungent, quite peppery, acrid, with even more peelings and skins than in the nose. Plenty of nutmeg and ginger, probably from some rather active oak. Not a rounded, polished HP for sure. With water: more of all that, with also a little leather and leaves. Chewing tobacco. Finish: quite long, relatively smoky. Lemon, then more oaky spices in the aftertaste. Comments: I enjoy the ‘honesty’ in this, but I don’t find this green and smoky goddess of love particularly sexy. SGP:372 - 82 points.
From a combination of firstfill sherry casks and refill hogsheads. As usual, all this Norse paraphernalia tends to leave us Latins rather cold, but after all, it’s the content that counts. I mean, the bottle's content, not the marketing content. Colour: deep gold. Nose: the sherry feels, and comes with some raisins soaked in kirsch as well as touches of gunpowder and nutmeg. Then we find more eau-de-vie-soaked cake (fruitcake with dates and figs), charcoal, burning pipe, struck matches and strong mead, with a fermentary side. It’s a little rough, perhaps, and may lack a bit of the luscious complexity of older sherried Highland Parks. With water: some kind of smoked stout, smoky mustard, walnuts… A wee feintiness, perhaps, but after tne minutes, more biscuits do emerge and it rather gets rounder. Mouth (neat): rather hot and spicy. Cumin, pepper, bitter oranges, raisins, slivovitz, ginger. Rather gritty, with a slightly acrid smokiness. With water: the spices keep singing (nutmeg, caraway, ginger) and suggest some active oak’s been used. Smoky walnuts and more bitter oranges. Ginger liqueur. Finish: rather long, peppery, slightly salty/smoky. Bitter oranges again in the aftertaste. Comments: very fine, rather powerful, but not very ‘polished’. The oak’s spices are a tad loud for my taste. Was that Odin’s personality? SGP:462 - 86 points.
|Classification||Single Malt Whisky|
|ABV/ Volume||- / 70cl|
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