The last in our evenings explorations was actually the start of Highland Park’s Valhalla series with Thor, God of Thunder. Cue visions of Vikings, the sound of swords and shields clashing, wind whipping through wild hair as a longship gathers speed with crashing waves. In keeping with the theme, it is packaged in a wooden frame styled after the prow of a viking longboat.
And the crazy thing? Clearly the Valhalla quartet (Thor, Loki, Freya, Odin) captured some collectors imagination. The Thor alone has auctioned for £490!
None of this we knew before we tried it, sampling blind to see what we thought of the whisky irrespective of origins.
Highland Park Thor 16 year 52.1%
- Nose – Initially sharp, soap, then roasted pineapple, black liquorice, not so many layers yet something unique, teasingly uncommon, fruit, floral, talcum powder, one even suggest fahrenheit perfume! Then shifted into green pears, baked apple pie…. After the 1st sip, all the interesting elements disappeared, shifting into burnt sugar and walnut shells
- Palate – Lovely on the palate, a tingly spice with pepper, sweet cloves, allspice, like a masala chai, just a hint of smoke, well finished with character yet surprisingly thin, like it is skirting on the surface, lacking depth, body and those critical mid-notes
- Finish – Again a lovely finish with a hint of spice
- Water – Really opens it up, adds the missing ‘mid’ level to the palate, tempers and rounds out the spice allowing the gentle smoke to join in harmony. With water the whisky now feels complete with a good mouthful, a bit of rubber and other elements joined which gave more depth to the ram. From our perspective, a bit of water is a “must add” for this whisky to truly reveal its character.
We began to speculate and debate…
- We could tell this clearly wasn’t a ‘green’ young whisky though not very old either – hence guesses in the 16 year range were thrown about.
- We also thought it began in an ex-bourbon cask the had a sherry finish thing going on…
- From a strength perspective, we thought perhaps 46 – 48%
What mattered most is some really like it – finding it the kind of whisky that welcomes you home after a long journey. There was some debate whether the nose or palate was the best part.
With the reveal, we discovered we were spot on with the age, off with the strength and hard to tell for the casks as the details are not disclosed.
However the real surprise? The price. £490/$685. Yikes! There is nothing about this whisky that pushes it into that territory. For our original group, this must be one of the most expensive bottles shared.
And yet this is what clever packaging, keeping an edition “limited’ (i.e. 23,000), released in 2012 followed by others to create a quartet, managed to accomplish – transporting a rather nice whisky into the ridiculous range.
Are we glad we tried it? Absolutely! However for our merry Mumbai malt aficionados, our explorations and adventures will continue… in a more affordable vein!
What else did we try in our explorations (and distraction with packaging)?
- Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Shackleton “The Journey” 47.3%
- Tobermory 15 years 46.3%
- Highland Park’s Valhalla Series “Thor” 16 year 52.1% (This post)
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