Highland Park The Valhalla Collection - tasting it all
OK, then. We have lined up the full Highland Park The Valhalla Collection, and at long last we can taste them all in one go. It's a bit like having waited for that final book in a very exciting trilogy (or trilogy in four parts (yeah, you know the one, right?)), and the author cannot write the book fast enough. In fact the author is way too slow. We want the whole story now! Anyways, I won't go into details about which authors are frustrating me currently. Back to the Highland Park The Valhalla Collection. I have previously reviewed all these whiskies individually. The three oldest ones are reviewed in Norwegian (but Google Translate is your friend). In this article I will rather focus on how I experience these whiskies when compared to each other.
Nose: Full-bodied and robust in all aspects. Darkness broods here. You can sense the power, but it is kept in check. The nose improves immensely in the glass. Getting bigger and bolder by the minute!
Taste: Rich, full-bodied, sweet, but also relatively dry on the finish. The peat feels laid back and moderate.
My original score for Thor was 93/100. Today I would probably score it 91/100. It is still a great dram.
Nose: The least sweet, and the most funky. More oak, more spices. Then all of a sudden he turns the table and you are left questioning your own notes. Sneaky bastard, this one!
Taste: Cooler, has a sharp edge, no - make that several sharp edges - but try again and the sharpness is gone. It is spicy, and quite varied. Over-all I would say it is the least balanced of the lot, but it is still by all means a good dram.
My original score for Loki was 88/100, and I think I'll stick with that score.
Nose: The lightest and the most elegant. So, so delicate and sweet. You just have to smile, and again wonder why (Why!?) Highland Park do not release more whisky matured in 1st fill bourbon!
Taste: Wow! So elegant, so sensual. It is a sexy dram. 'Nuff said!
My original score for Freya was 93/100, and that would probably have been adjusted slightly to 92/100 now.
Nose: Sweeter and fresher than all except Freya. I would say this is the most complex nose out of the four, but it is just barely ahead of Thor and Freya.
Taste: The pepper symphony is what really differentiates this from the three others on the taste. The rest is all there for all of them; the lovely sweet honey and the soft smokiness. The pepperiness here is just wonderful.
My score for Odin is 93/100, and I am not changing that for anything.
I cannot help coming across as a fan boy in this post. The quality of the Highland Park The Valhalla Collection is very high. This is how a great HP should smell and taste, in my view. There is a stark contrast here, I think, with some of the less fortunate 'experiments' that Highland Park have released for the Travel Retail market in recent years. I would much rather pay the 'premium light' price for these Gods of Valhalla than spend money on bottles hastily grabbed at the airport.
Anyways, congratulations to Highland Park for having accomplished The Valhalla Collection. It has been a great ride. And, being a true viking of the icy north, I have to hope that this series have made our ancient Gods of Valhalla known to a few more people. The real gods of Valhalla are a lot more tough and interesting than the Marvel superhero versions. Pick up a book on Norse Mythology and enjoy it with a dram or two of Highland Park!
Sláinte! - Thomas