Highland Park Ice Edition
Highland Park Ice Edition, 17 YO, 53,9 %
Just last week Highland Park distillery on Orkney launched their new whisky; the Highland Park Ice Edition. This is their first special release since they finished the The Valhalla Collection with the great Odin.
The Valhalla bottlings came in wooden cradles shaped like longships. The Highland Park Ice Edition also comes in a wooden cradle, but this time it is shaped like a mountain (see image below). The bottle itself is meant to resemble ice, and has a blue tint, again to give the association of ice.
This whisky has been matured in a special type of casks; they have used rebuilt 1st fill ex-bourbon casks (225 litre) that have been fitted with fresh American oak cask ends. Now, you might remember the fabulous Freya, matured 100 % in 1st fill ex-bourbon casks. What a magical whisky that was! Based on this I was expecting a whisky somewhat like Freya, but perhaps with a bit more spiciness and creaminess to it. The tasting notes below will either confirm or dismiss this...
The back story for this release is a bit much for me. I mean, I do love Norse mythology and vikings, but it is getting to be a tad much now - maybe? I would want more focus on the whisky itself, but I understand the 'Marketing Machine' can be hard to stop.
Anyways, this whisky is in honour of the Ice Realm of Niflheim. So - massive cold, icy tundra, giants, frozen rivers etc. In Norse mythology there are nine realms, and I would not think any less of you if you now go "Aha! So this will be the first in a release of nine (9!) special, collectable, expensive bottles!". In other words, a collector's nightmare or dream (depending on whether you have the money and manage to get all the bottles or not). But fear not, this series will only consist on two bottlings, as far as I gather from the distillery representative. The second release will be the Highland Park Fire Edition.
The Highland Park Ice Edition is limited to 30 000 bottles, and will be available globally shortly at an RSP of GBP 190. It will most likely go on sale in Norway in May or July, and probably before then in Sweden. I will update with links and prices once I have that available.
Nose (23/25): Deep, rich and sweet nose. There is a definite influence from the bourbon casks, but also the fresh oak element. Vanilla, tropical fruit (pineapple?), soft nuttiness, and light oaky spices. The distillery character is a little bit subdued at first, but comes more to the fore after a time in the glass. Heather honey and a light, fruity smokiness.
Taste (22/25): Rich, sweet and spicy on the palate. The honey is more pronounced now, as are the spices. The vanilla notes are now more like butterscotch - creamy. The peat and smoke is still relatively low key - a hint of ashes and wood smoke.
Finish (22/25): The finish is relatively long. Creamy and oily. Honey and refined spices. There is also a refreshing surge of mint and eucalyptus here, which gives it a cool and, I guess, a bit of an 'icy' finish.
Balance (22/25): A very nice dram. I do think that 1st fill ex-bourbon is a very good match for Highland Park. This expression does not quite reach the same heights as Freya, but it is a very solid and well-balanced whisky.
Sláinte! - Thomas