Whisky Review: Highland Park Valknut

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Highland Park. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

Highland Park, the venerable Orkney distillery, has slowly been rolling out its ever more Nordic inspired line of  Scotch whisky bottlings over the last several years.  The northernmost distillery in Scotland, it shares both a latitude and cultural history with the Nordic nations. Viking carvings dating back to the 12th century dot the islands, and Highland Park has increasingly drawn heavily from this history.  The first in the “Viking Legend” series, Valkyrie, was a relatively well regarded, if nondescript, expression.  No age statement is given with these bottlings; the emphasis is instead placed on the malt bill, which pushes the spirits in a decidedly youthful direction.

With regards to this newer expression I’m reviewing here today, Valknut, it is non age statement as well. The distillery notes of it that it has been “matured predominantly in American sherry seasoned oak casks with a slightly higher phenolic level, compared to Valkyrie.” It also has included in the mash bill a small amount of Orkney grown Tartan barley, which reportedly “adds to its smokier edge and lingering sweet, spicy finish.”  Is such the case? Let’s taste it and find out.

Highland Park Valknut

Highland Park Valknut (image via Highland Park)

Tasting Notes: Highland Park Valknut

Vital Stats: 46.8% abv; non-age statement; Orkney grown Tartan barley added to the kiln, matured in sherry seasoned, American oak;  prices at $79.99.

Appearance: light golden blond.

Nose: musky cereals, light cheese rind, well caramelized aged gouda, some bright red fruit, a touch of clove spice and apricot.

Palate: almonds, meadowfoam honey, green grains, lemon zest, lightly oxidative sherry on the back.  It drinks young, reminiscent of Lagavulin 8, but without the honey-ed farro characteristics I so much enjoyed.  Light phenolics with the famously floral peaty aromatics coming through. The barrel treatment is muted with the emphasis clearly weighted towards the grains.  A quick, clean finish, as would be expected.

The Takeaway


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This latest entry in the Highland Park Viking Legend series is a pretty serviceable expression of the lighter touch Highland Park is capable of. This would be a fine dram for those who shy away from either barrel heavy (read: sherry bomb) whiskies, or those who are peat averse. While I certainly don’t think that it surpasses the sum of its parts in the way that Lagavulin 8 does, it is an entirely pleasant experience.

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