Review: Highland Park Valhalla Collection – Loki

Highland Park Loki
Highland Park Loki

We’ve always been big fans of Highland Park and consider Highland Park 15 to be among our favorite whiskies. Last year Highland Park began a new special edition Valhalla series honoring the Norse mythology so intwined with the Orkney Islands (where Highland Park is located). Last year’s release, Thor, was a delightful 16 year whisky, high proof, with terrific complexity and a superb flavor profile. This year’s Valhalla release is called Loki to celebrate the Norse God known for trickery and mischief. Highland Park Loki is a 15 year old whisky that is as exciting and unique as Thor.

Highland Park Loki ($249, 48.7% ABV / 97.4 proof) – Highland Park has indicated that as the Valhalla Collection progresses, less will be available of each release and the price will gradually increase. Thor came in at $199 and Loki ups the ante to a whopping $249. This price is both a reflection of the supply and the quickly moving collector’s market in whisky. Identical in color to Thor, Loki is light golden amber. Highland Park uses a combination of Oloroso sherry seasoned American and Spanish oak casks, and the combination of whisky from these two types gives Highland Park a considerable palate of flavors and aromas from which to draw. The nose on Loki is light and fruity with clear sherry with an ethereal light floral note. Highland Park peats 20% of their malted barley and that sweet peat smoke is there lingering right at the edge. Loki gets its name partly from the solid difference between the nose and the entry. Loki’s entry is an explosion of flavor including the peat smoke that was hanging at the edge of the nose, light oak spice, sherry, and salt. It’s one of the more complex and enjoyable entries we’ve tasted in a single malt whisky. That entry continues to power through into the midpalate where, towards the end, things transition into a lighter makeup of flavors including dried orange,  light honey, oak, and licorice. The finish is fairly dry and loses much of the peat smoke that was there in the entry, with more of the citrus notes dominating. Loki is one of those great whiskies that continues to develop as you make your way through your dram. The initial floral notes on the nose fade and the sherry fruit notes transition to apricot and peach. It’s easy to be myopic about the first few sips of a whisky, and so it’s nice to have one that rewards you for sticking around and savoring each sip.

Highland Park Loki is another outstanding release from an outstanding distillery. Unfortunately, price tag of $249 brings it out of the hands of most whisky lovers and into the hands of whisky collectors. We still love the packaging that Highland Park has crafted around the Valhalla series – it’s the kind of bottle that becomes a showpiece on any bar. The twist and turns that Loki takes are something you’ll either love or hate. We found so much great complexity and integration of flavors in the midpalate, we didn’t mind being tricked a little between the nose and the taste. We also love the way that Loki develops over time. It’s an interesting journey sure to please even the most casual of Highland Park fan.