Recently Highland Park released two offerings. I was sad to see the whole Valhalla vibe not used for these, however for those of you who love the giant wooden boxes. I have decided to hold out mine to use for my ashes when I die. Be funny for people who try to steal my widow’s booze. Maybe hold onto my skull and buy one of those Halloween things that jump out.
But enough of my insane, disturbing use for the thing that use to hold my consciousness. What did Highland Park bring out?
These are a special two-part bottling, celebrating the great sagas of the Viking age recorded in the Poetic Edda, the oldest Norse poems.
Well they are called Highland Park 15 Fire and Highland Park 17 Ice. So, initial reaction: Has age statements. That’s always good.
But what are they? Was Fire used in one, and Ice used in one? Let’s deep dive on each.
Highland Park 15 Fire is up first. The Poetic Edda tells the tale of the apocalyptic battle between the Gods and the Fire and Ice Giants. It didn’t end well for the old world, but then a new world was born from the ashes, so bonus.
This is the first time a Highland Park has been matured in 100% refill Port seasoned casks. I’m a giant sucker for anything port matured. I love Highland Park, it’s partially peated, they work hard. I enjoy it more at cask strength, however this one is at least higher than 40%, so I’ll give it a pass.
Let’s see if this striking whisky tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Cask Type: Refill Port-seasoned Casks
Number of Bottles: 28,000
Nose: Currant, strawberry compote, red raisins, cranberry, cassia buds, thyme, coconut milk
Lots and lots of fruit on the nose. It’s richer, though there’s not much cocoa on it. To be frank, as I usually do, I bought this whisky without knowing much about it save for what I saw outside. So I honestly thought it was PX cask. Has some nice richness.
Taste: Strawberry, ginger, nutmeg, peach pie, raisin, cinnamon
Less strong taste. It’s quite spicy, which is nice, and has some nice raisin.
That said, there’s nothing here that’s screaming the port elements I typically like in things. It’s cut back somewhat. As it stands, I’m missing an acid element that I enjoy in standard HP 15, which is replaced with sweets here. Don’t get me wrong, the peach pie is more complex, it’s just not doing it enough for me.
Finish: Currant, upside down apricot cake, faint ginger, lemon curd
Again, I’m torn on this one. The acidity that I feel makes Highland Park interesting is somewhat there, but it’s there as a lemon curd afterthought. We get more complex flavours and cake, but the spice goes away in the finish.
Conclusion: Needs work. And I think I want to add to that.
Highland Park is typically a mix of ex-bourbon casks and ex-sherry casks. I’ve had single casks of sherry and single casks of ex-Bourbon, and found the ex-bourbon to be quite nice. I think I remember reading that the standard ones were about 20% ex-sherry. So in this one, it’s 100% port. I think that’s the issue.
Also I’m biased against 15 year old whiskies. And really everything that’s 15 year old. Yeah, you heard me. Fuck 2002 Civics.
So this is what I’d call an interesting dram. Honestly it’s nice to nose, has a nice taste, and some interesting complexity. Am I really blown away by it? No. I think it should have been a strong strength, as it’s really subtle. I think they should play around with port casks some more. And I think anyone going into this needs to know that.
Highland Park 17 Ice is up next. It’s a reflection of Nilifheim, the birthplace of ice, frost, and fog. Well, according to Norse mythology. Don’t start making a religion out of these reviews, that would be bothersome.
Some have stated similarities to this edition and the previous Highland Park Freya. Well, one guy, but he was nice to me, so… some.
Both are green, both are cask strength, and both use first fill ex-bourbon casks. So yeah, Freya was 15 years old, and then her heart went cold. You know, as you do.
So yes, this is the follow up to Freya. And recently showed up in my province. But let’s see how it tastes before we go buy funeral boxes.
Price: $430.25 CAD at the LCBO
Cask Type: First Fill ex-Bourbon casks
Number of Bottles: 30,000
Colour: 5Y 9/8
Nose: White pepper, sweet corn, molasses, cereal, New York cheesecake, rosemary
Bit hot at first. Given some time, you get past what I’d call a mix between a strong bourbon and a rum, eventually to a sweeter, creamy nose. Some herbal on it.
It’s a tad sweet, though the complexity is there, and I’m liking it more than Fire already.
Taste: Lime gelatin, cereal, grass, cinnamon hearts, black liquorice, tobacco, linen
The cereal/grass helps to balance out some of the sweet parts. The tobacco and linen does too. Or I could just say this is all really balanced.
I mean, you have citrus, a grassy element, some nice spice added, good sweets, and then earth that’s nicely complex and works with them. It’s a broad, interesting dram.
Finish: Tangerine, butter, anise/fennel, tar, tiger tail ice cream, oak
Long. Quite long. Interesting amount of anise and orange. Don’t think it does everything I’d want it to do. Feels limited in comparison to the taste.
Would it be good on it’s own? Well for me yeah, but I like fennel, because there has to be one of us in the world, otherwise the prophecy will come into being.
Conclusion: Much better than fire, and quite the upgrade from Freya as well. It’s nicely spicy at the end, which I enjoyed, however I docked some marks because it didn’t really go beyond anise and orange too much. The taste is where it’s at: Balanced, well done, and interesting. The nose was nice, though you may wonder about it.
So in the end, I feel like the Ice was good. Price is up to you. Personally my store sells it for too much. Fire needs some work, however I’m happy they brought it out and want to see where they go with Port in the future.
Scotch reviews #676-677, Island reviews #84-85, Whisky Network reviews #1119-1120