Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review - Highland Park Odin

Highland Park Odin is the greatly anticipated (and already sold-out) fourth and final bottling in The Valhalla Collection. Each single malt whisky in this series is named after legendary figures from Nordic history and Odin follows the previous award-winning releases of Thor, Loki and Freya.

This limited edition whisky with only 17,000 bottles released globally is presented in a dramatic black ‘battle worn’ bottle and black Viking long ship inspired wooden frame that is a signature to the complete series. It is 16 years old, 55.8% ABV, and for those lucky enough to have managed to pick up a bottle, it was available at a recommended retail price of £180. The whisky itself is aged in 250 litre hogsheads previously holding sherry; starting with refill casks then transferred to fresh first fill casks for a final four years.

As per the rest of The Valhalla Collection the whisky’s character is inspired by its namesake, Odin, All-father of the gods and ruler of Asgard. He is known in legend as ‘the furious one’ and is an intensely complex character. Highland Park weaves the story and legend to explain their choice of whisky characteristic and dramatic packaging. ‘Odin is the strongest of all the Norse gods and driven by an unquenchable thirst for wisdom. By sacrificing an eye for a drink from the Well of Wisdom, he earned immeasurable knowledge and insight. With only one eye which blazes like the sun, Odin cuts an ominous figure.’

Highland Park is the most northern whisky distillery in Scotland, located on the remote Orkney Islands, which have a rich Norse heritage dating back to ancient times. Highland Park is one of the oldest whisky distilleries in Scotland and was established in 1798 by Magnus Eunson, who was known as the 'whisky priest' because he was allegedly a priest by day and an illegal whisky distiller by night. Highland Park is currently owned by the Edrington Group and has an annual production capacity of 2.5 million litres.

Our tasting notes
This golden russet coloured whisky is quite powerful and molasses sweet on the nose with bags of dried fruit, such as sultanas, and sweet spices, such as cinnamon and licorice. This is balanced by heather floral notes.
Initially on the palate there is a dry woodiness and bitter sweet spice which opens into dark chocolate with lots of juicy dried fruits (sultanas and plums) and dried orange peel. The warm woody spices last on the finish reminiscent of earthy dried ginger and cocoa powder which is also where the only real sense of smokiness appears. Sweet treacle notes run in the background throughout the lasting impression of this whisky.

Hear what three of Highland Park's brand ambassadors have to say about the flavours of Odin...

What's the verdict?
Odin rounds off The Valhalla Collection with a powerful statement. It is rich and sweet but well balanced making it a memorable whisky. Like all whiskies in the series it is a bold statement of personality and the skill of the whisky makers. The marketeers have created a cult and demand that can only be described as admirable. Its rarity drives the price tag but sadly, however, we anticipate that many bottles will be collected or bought for investment rather than drunk and enjoyed as seems to be trend with all current releases of this nature.

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