Highland Park Thor

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Distillery/Brand: Highland Park | Region: Islands | ABV: 52.1% | Color: Gold
Nose: 24 | Taste: 23 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93

Review
I remember when the Thor came out. I scoffed. I saw the fancy packaging (and believe me when I say fancy I mean Norse boat fancy), the really high price (high for a 16 year old, that is) and I said ‘whatever, dude’.

Another marketing gimmick, I thought to my self. So sick of these distilleries packaging youngish spirit in fancy boxes and selling them for so much. So as a matter of principle I decided not to even bother.

Then I started reading some reviews and they were all good. I mean really good. I relented. I said fine, I’ll get one. But when I tried looking I couldn’t find a single bottle. The only ones I saw were sitting on auction blocks put up by smart investors. And they were more than four times the original price!

Well, now I was definitely not going to bother.

So it was a nice surprise to see an open bottle sitting on a friends’ shelf which I duly took down to see what all the fuss was all about.

The first of four in the Valhalla collection this sherry matured liquid is served up at 52.1% and is one of 23,000 bottles sold worldwide. My sample was from a bottle two-thirds over and would have benefited from some oxidization.

Nose: Clove. Sherry. Mango. A very unusual oak. I think the oxidization may have taken away some of the malty notes. I’ve notice HPs lose their brine/malty aroma after a while. Red berries. Cherry cola. Cinnamon. Red licorice. Touch of iodine. Pinch of salt. A very balanced and unique nose.

Palate: Crisp sherry. Chocolate. Black peppers. Cola. Cherries. Brown sugar. Grapes. Dark citrus. Hint of nuts. A lovely delivery. Very smooth and very confident.

Finish: Long. Oily. Juice with a touch of spice.

Such a lovely expression! Crisp and confident. I’m kicking my self for not picking it up when I had the chance.

Rating: 93

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Highland Park Harald

Highland Park Harald
Distillery/Brand: Highland Park | Region: Islands | ABV: 40% | Color: Gold
Nose: 22 | Taste: 21 | Finish: 21 | Balance: 21 | Rating: 85

Review
I’m generally a fan of Highland Park. It was one of the first whiskies I had ever tried. Luckily for me it was a bottle of the 18 year old and I remember thinking Bloody hell! There is no way whisky can taste that good!

The entry level 12 year old is decent enough, in my opinion, while on the other hand the premium 25 and 30 are in a league of their own. Though, mind you, I have had a fairly ordinary 1998 once as well. Which is fine since there is no way you can hit everything out of the park.

Including this one.

Highland Park recently released six Travel Retail Exclusive NAS expressions named after Viking warriors from the ages. All of which have funny sounding Norse names like Sven, Kristoff and Olaf.

Wait, I think that’s from the movie Frozen.

Anyway, this particular one is called Harald, named after the 9th century Norse ruler credited to be the first King of Norway and the one who unified the country. Unfortunately, the only thing this whisky is going to unify is the people who think it’s quite average.

Produced using both American & European oak casks 50-50 first fill and refill and 50-50 Euro and American oak sherries it is bottled at a rather weak 40%.

Nose: Musty. Cabbage water. Mushy peas. Coastal sea-salt. Quite briney with a hint of malt balls. A touch of that Orcadian peat. Cherries. Red apples. The mustiness clears after twenty minutes in the glass leaving behind a more crisp sherry influence. It’s a decent enough nose.

Palate: Caramel. Cereal. Quite mousy. Mild black peppers. Nuts. Brown bread. Yeasty. Drying oak. The palate is a touch underpowered. I don’t know what another 6% could have done. No harm I’m sure.

Finish: So short. Chocolate. Cinnamon. Oak. But so short.

If you’re going to name your whiskies after Viking warriors make sure they pack a punch. This one just limply shakes your hand.

Rating: 85