To complete its limited-edition Valhalla collection of whiskies, Highland Park has created a powerful, 16-year-old single malt
“BY THE CLIFF on the Orkney Islands is where Highland Park whisky is best enjoyed,” says Daryl Haldane, global brand advocate to the more than 100-year-old Scotch whisky distillery, Highland Park. To date, the cabinet of awards of this most respected brand includes the San Francisco Spirits Award’s Best Distillery of the Year in 2007 and Best Show Whisky in 2008. Highland Park also featured on Spirit Journal’s 110 Best Distilled Spirits and 115 Best Five-Star Spirits listings in 2005 and 2009 respectively.
Lying off the northern coast of the Scottish mainland, the Orkney Islands have a strong Norse heritage, which is reflected in Highland Park’s Valhalla collection, launched in 2012. Each whisky in the collection is inspired by a particular Norse god, whose character is encapsulated in the contents of the bottle. The collection made its debut with Thor, the god of thunder: “Thor is strong, but not necessarily the most intelligent,” explains Haldane. Thus, the whisky “had to be bold, brash and high in strength”.
The next year saw the arrival of Loki, god of fire, who is mischievous and sometimes deceitful – not exactly the qualities we expect in gods. To achieve this, Highland Park for the first time used peat from the Scottish mainland. “It was unusual, yet very fitting at the same time,” says Haldane. And in 2014, the brand created Freya, named after the goddess of love and fertility, which is elegant and more refined.
This year the brand concluded the Valhalla collection with a grand finale that needed to tower above the other Norse gods: the ominous figure of Odin. “Odin portrays Highland Park at full volume,” says Haldane. “We added lots of oak and lots of peat, and it’s the highest in strength [at 55.8 ABV].”
With its smooth aromas of cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts, spice and smoke, the 16-year-old single-malt Odin explodes on the palate with powerful and complex layers of dense oak and peat, a scented finish of sherry and soft fruits, and a smoky finale. The lingering aftertaste of sweet plumy butterscotch makes you long for more.
Available in a limited edition of just 17,000 bottles, which, like Odin himself, are dark, imperfect and battle worn, it is housed in an award-winning wooden frame, just like the other whiskies of the acclaimed Valhalla collection.