Saturday, 8 February 2014

Highland Park - #SecretTT - twitter tasting

On February 7, 2014 we had another twitter tasting. Organized by @TheWhiskyWire, together with Highland Park's @DarylHaldane, who filled three 50ml bottles with three different secret whiskies and sent them around the world accompanied by a handwritten personal message. Good start.
Each of the bottles had a colored dot on the top, marking the order in which they would be tasted, starting with blue, red and ending with green. Anyone following the whisky news lately and has seen the new release in the Highland Park Valhalla range could have guessed the content of the latter being Freya - the third release in the series. With that, blue and red could just as well be the first two expressions - Thor and Loki.

Thor - Ansgar's notes
Highland Park - Thor - 16yr – 52.1% ABV - 23,000 Bottles - January 2012.
Gerry Tosh talks you through the Thor on YouTube.

"The aim was to make Whisky in the style of characters that bring to life the history of Orkney. For Thor, we needed power and a straight forward no nonsense kin'a Whisky. Mainly American oak with a splash of European oak ex-Sherry casks" 

Nose - Malt, salt, raisin, plums, tobacco, abricots, spice, coriander, white pepper, and sweet fruit. Dark heather honey, apple, vanilla, cookie dough and creamy. Citrus notes, grapefruit, orange, toffee and chocolate. A full and fruity nose. Fruit buffet with all kind of lovely french pastries. warm apple strudel with vanilla sauce. Dense fruitcake. Crispy bacon, light smoke, and different fruits.

Palate - Warm, sweet, vanilla, bit pepper, creamy, bit gingerbread, cinnamon, many different fruits, and light smoke dryness. Lemon, orange marmalade, salty cashew nuts. Notes from nose come back also on the palate. Raisin sweetness on the palate combines with chocolate and fudge notes.

Finish - A bit dry cocoa finish combined with vanilla, like a very dry chocolate cake, with some dark red fruits on it without cream topping. Some mint freshness on the back comes through. Finish is a medium length one. It is a complex dram, there is much in there for sure.

Loki - Ansgar's notes
Highland Park Loki – 15yr – 48.7% ABV – 21,000 Bottles – March 2013.
Daryl Haldane talks us through Loki on YouTube.

"God of fire, I'm sure you know who this is! It's silky and slippery. But behind the sweet creamy stuff, we have a deviant! The peat was from Caithness in this Whisky. A Whisky distilled around 17 years ago. Classic HP with an evil twist!" 

Nose - Sweet, hay, light and fresh. Bit orange and citrus, combined with malt, spice and some coastal salty notes. Butter, raisin, vanilla, light smoke notes, and some pink grapefruit. There is some butterscotch sweetness in it, dark honey, apples and marzipan.

Palate - At first I get more the feeling of lots of pepper and spice combined with strong clove and a splash of eucalyptus. But that quickly softens a bit up in cinnamon, pepper, little bite of mint/citrus, apple syrup, honey, marmalade, orange, pomolo, heather, green and red apples, banana, gooseberry, mango and milk chocolate. Citrus notes and mint are strong in this expression.

Finish - Get a bit smoky and orange marmalade feel to it. A medium length finish that gets in the end almost a creamy rose feel to it. You can still feel the fresh and fruity shine through there with a little bit of milk chocolate.

I have had a first taste of this expression of the Valhalla Collection at a festival, and did not get much out of it at that time. Found this one to be a bit difficult and my nose and palate went to all sides. It is balanced, and is a 15 year old expression. This one needs to be warmed up and needs some time to open up.

Freya - Ansgar's notes
Highland Park Freya – 15yr – 51.2% ABV – 19,000 Bottles – February 2014.
Daryl Haldane talks us through Freya on YouTube.

"This Whisky was made to represent the Goddess of fertility and love. It's very elegant, but has some power behind the light floral notes. Alluring complexity. Dry, sweet and then dry again. Shimmering in the glass and delivering a merry dance on the palate." 

Nose - Creamy, vanilla custard, brinta. Many citrus notes, lemon, grapefruit, orange, pomolo. Fresh vanilla sweetness and apple are definitely a high note here. Many backing spices, jam donuts, powdered sugar, cream bun, fresh pastries, ginger, lavender, tropical fruit notes, light peat. Fresh, sweet and fruity...

Palate - Pepper, vanilla, baking spice, lemon, creamy. Pastry notes from nose come through on palate, nicely balanced dram. Fresh citrus notes and creaminess, lemon curd and tropical fruit. Chocolate, coconut, and tropical fruits, and some malt notes.

Finish - Medium length finish, creamy, white chocolate with lemon
This nose lets you think that you are standing a good French pastry. Filled with many sweet flavours and fruits. The palate continues very nicely on the notes from the nose. The finish lets you think a bit of a good lemon cheesecake. This is definitely a balanced, complex and full dram.


Thanks to Daryl Haldane of Highland Park and Steve Rush of The Whisky Wire for selecting us in this twitter tasting. We feel privileged to have joined in this little exclusive tasting where once more a special selection of great whiskies was presented.

Due to a nasty cold, my taste buds presented everything flavored with a layer of bitter, so the tasting notes are all Ansgar's. You will certainly find my notes on Whisky Worship eventually when my cold passes.

The quotes are snippets of Daryl Haldane's tweets during the tasting. He also provided us with the YouTube links. Pictures were supplied by Steve Rush, also during the tasting.

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