Highland Park’s New Global Travel Retail Range

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A couple of weeks ago a #HighlandPark tasting took place on the Twittersphere, where a bunch of bloggers/journos/media types tasted their way through Highland Park’s new global travel retail range; an NAS whisky called Spirit of the Bear, a 14yo called Loyalty of the Wolf, and a 16yo called Wings of the Eagle. I was due to take part, but a pesky cold soon reduced any nosing and tasting capacity I have right down to zero. I duly left the samples in the cupboard and waited patiently until my cold had passed so I could actually gather some semi-coherent tasting notes, which brings us to today. With all mythical Norse god personnel now exhausted, it looks as though Highland Park have turned to animals to give their whiskies exciting tag lines. But, let’s not judge a book by its cover. Here we go…

Highland Park Spirit of the Bear
Primarily American oak sherry casks
40% ABV
RRP £44 for 1 litre

Nose: Some putty, wood glue, pine resin and remarkably clean. It’s a bit spirity too, with some lemon, cookie dough, dried apricot and quite ‘green’. It’s a bit quiet, to be honest, and is more reminiscent of a young Speysider than a typical HP.

Palate: Oh, there’s the smoke. Just a touch though, which is followed by some lemon, pineapple, apple skins and a bit of pear. There’s a bit of vanilla and charred marshmallow too.

Finish: Very short. Some citric sweetness and some charred oak.

Highland Park Loyalty of the Wolf
14 years old
American oak sherry casks and bourbon barrels
42.3% ABV
RRP £57 for 1 litre

Nose: Much more rounded than the Spirit of the Bear; baked apples, mint, aromatic smoke and then a richness – clove, cinnamon, malt loaf, gingerbread, bourbon biscuits and fruit scones.

Palate: Cherries, some mulled wine spices, dried cranberries, sultanas, twigs, some charred logs and a little bit of tea leaf.

Finish: Some gentle smoke and a dried fruit sweetness.

Highland Park Wings of the Eagle
16 years old
European and American oak sherry casks
44.5% ABV
RRP £79

Nose: Loads of honey, alongside custard creams, cinder toffee, caramel barrels, orange marmalade, bark, some leather and faint espresso.

Palate: Quite spicy initially, with cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, five spice, some liquorice, Morello cherries and red currants. Then a bit of chewy oak and earthy smoke.

Finish: Unlit cigar, leather, burnt dried fruits and woodsmoke.

Overall: The older you go, the better things get, with my favourite undoubtedly being the Wings of the Eagle. It’s the most Highland Park-y of the three and provides all the smoky, rich, sweet notes I look for in an HP. The Spirit of the Bear is quite poor in my opinion, with the minimum bottling strength not at all helping the very young whisky which it is quite clearly composed of. Things are better with the Loyalty of the Wolf, but it just lacks a bit of oomph. So, the oldest whisky is my favourite… maybe there’s still something to the age statement philosophy?



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