Highland Park Valknut
Aged in ex- Sherry (European oak) and peated at a higher level than usual
Highland Park, born 1798 from the imagination of Magnus Eunson : butcher and church officer…he was also a smuggler and an illicit distiller by night. He chose a place up from Kirkwall (Orkney’s largest city) to see the authorities coming, a Park High from town…thus the name Highland Park (absolutely no reference to the Scottish Highlands or the geographical position of Orkney compared to Mainland).As for process goes, HP uses a small part of peated barley, about 20%, with their own peat. This one is very different than what can be found in the Highlands or on Islay. On Orkney, there is no tall vegetation, no trees, no shrubs. So the peat there is just decomposed grass, or heather, giving the whisky a much “smoother” peat side than other peated whisky. HP also uses, mainly, some of the highest quality Sherry casks. Just like for Macallan, Edrington possesses its own Sherry factory, helping to guarantee an enough arrival of Sherry casks. The use of Orkney’s peat and high quality Sherry casks is what makes HP such a unique Scotch. As of late, Highland Park has been embracing its Vikings roots for every new expressions, except its core line and single casks. Some fans and industry members have criticized this portion of marketing. But I have to say, after spending 2 weeks on Orkney, it’s not HP embracing it : it’s the whole island. People have no idea how much Viking there is on the island : the streets, the boats names, the shops, etc. As someone there told me, Orkney has been part of the Danemark Kingdom for more than 6 centuries, and part of Scotland for less than 6. Do the math.
As for this particular edition, this is the 2nd installment in a Valhalla trilogy (I’ll soon review the 1st one). There was Valkyrie, now it’s Valknut, and there will be Valkfather.
Color : clear and pale gold.
Nose : in contrast peat-dried fruit-candied fruit. The nose is balanced, relatively discreet but will reveal what’s going on on the palate…
Palate : warm and full, we have a first impression of grilled pears…on a peat fire. Very atypical flavors for an HP, including peat much more pronounced.
Final : short and fast, similar to the mouth. Somewhat disappointing.
Comments : a quiet nose, like the calm before the storm. A deeper mouth expressing an interesting side of HP. A disappointing final.
So all in all a whisky that HP fans (ok…fanatics) will buy, maybe even in double, but will not go unto History for anyone. Therefore, I recommend passing your turn, unless you are interested in the trilogy.