Highland Park is one of my top 3 distilleries, and there are always a few HP bottles in my bar at any given moment, I like it that much. Earlier this year, HP caused quite a stir in the whisky puddle after a massive PR campaign for their latest expression “Thor” the 16 year old whisky. A twitter account was created, as well as a teaser campaign was released in which bloggers and industry members received a few packages with riddles and icons prior to the much anticipated release. I was not included in this PR Hoo-ha!, and was lucky enough to try this sample, along with the rest of the HP range (12,16,21,25,30) in an online twitter tasting which took place last month. Sadly, samples arrived one day too late, so I had to do with those samples I had at home (18,25,30), and tasted this one one day after the rest. In addition to the massive PR campaign, a lot of whisky lovers and geeks (such as myself) have written many a word about the pricing of this expression : With most online retailers selling this for well over £100, this is not a cheap whisky, even for a 16 year old cask strength expression. Some were saying that a hefty bit of the price was due to the massive PR and the ‘elegant’ packaging(in the form of a wooden Viking ship). Fancy packaging or not, HP has quite a cult following and I am sure this one will sell well.
Nose: we’re in different waters here. Much peatier than the regular OBs. Not as sweet. Zest. Some dough. Damp wood.
Palate: Spicy entry then the earthy peat kicks in. Malty and rather creamy. Big body. Oak. Honey and salty dough. Fruit and smoked ginger.
Finish: smoky and spicy. Ginger.
If we’re dealing with quality, it’s a no brainer. this one is of great quality, well done, and a lovely whisky in all aspects. Clearly it is not similar to the regular line of expressions (18 or 21) which are sweeter woodier, and more sherried in profile, so look elsewhere if you are into that style. If you like whisky, and you come open minded, this one will impress you, no doubt. The only question here is the pricing. I am not 100% convinced by this malt as to pay over 100 quid, be it cask strength or not. I would love to see this priced at around 80 , which is only fair, then I’d grab it without a second thought. Now, the whisky market is driven bu forces of supply and demand, and if there is a demand for this whisky at that price, so be it, but until the price drops, I would not be buying a bottle. another tought : can we drop the price, if we drop the fancy packaging?
Score : 86/100
Many thanks to HP for the official sample.