GSN Review: Highland Park Valkyrie

Having once been part of Denmark and Norway, Orkney became the raiding headquarters for Norwegian Vikings in the 8th and 9th century, shaping a unique past for the island. Magnus Eunson, who founded Highland Park in 1798, was a direct descendent of those first Viking pioneers.  Even today, 1 in 3 Orkney islanders bear Scandinavian DNA and share a fierce pride for the rich Nordic ancestry woven into the islands’ traditions and culture.

It is this enduring culture and legacy that is the inspiration for Valkyrie, set to launch in June 2017, the first in a series of three Viking Legend releases inspired by Viking history and mythology. Highland Park approached Danish designer Jim Lynvgild, himself a modern-day Viking and expert in Norse mythology, to design striking new packaging for the three special edition whiskies. Valkyrie’s unique one-off design is inspired by two important Nordic sources – a typical Viking pendant from around 300-700AD discovered in Uppland, Sweden and the ancient Hammar Stone of Gotland which details the epic journey of the Valkyries.

In his distinctive style, Lynvgild has interpreted the ancient legend of the Valkyries – avenging horse-backed angels who combed the battlefields for the bravest of their fallen warriors – in an expressive, story-telling illustration for Highland Park. Using embossed metallic detailing, he represents the Valkyries as shield-maidens of Odin, offering their god a drink of mead from a curved horn. The larger illustration features a winged Valkyrie with coiled hair and a necklace that pays homage to the goddess Freya’s magical Brísingamen torc (necklace).

Jason Craig, Highland Park brand director, added: “The whisky itself, created by our Master Whisky Maker, Gordon Motion, dials up more of our smoky notes by incorporating more of our heathery peated malt.  This creates a richer, fuller phenolic note that has balance due to the sweeter, heathery character of our moorland peat, but it is a slight departure from our core 12 Year Old whisky.”

Highland Park Valkyrie (91.8 proof)
Visual: Rich golden-yellow.
Nose: Heathery smoke, toasted brown bread, young leather, dried currants, oak stave and malt.
Taste: Smooth and well-crafted with just enough char on the palate to please. Softer elements of caramel and butterscotch add a sweetness. Underlying it all is a cheerful and welcoming single malt distillate that achieves high marks.
Finish: Medium long with lingering sweet toffee notes.
Overall: A wonderful addition to the Highland Park portfolio.  Easily one of the better values on the market. If you can, buy a few bottles.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Highland Park Whisky

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