Here’s a report from the official launch of the Highland Park ’Thor’ in Stockholm.
‘Thor’sday February 16 saw the day of the official European launch of the latest Highland Park – their ‘Valhalla’-collection that promises to office whisky in the character style of the old Norse Gods.
A very exciting and also a hard project according to Martin Markvardsen – the Danish brand ambassador for Highland Park. Martin tells me it has taken a lot of research into old Viking writings and chronicles to come up with the profile for this whisky – but they have released the first edition – the ‘Thor’
The launch of Highland Park ‘Thor’ was set in the capitol city of our Swedish brothers – Stockholm and at the Viking theme restaurant of Aifur (http://www.aifur.se
) a through and through concept with traditional long tables and benches, cutlery and the right décor and therefore also the right place for a launch of a whisky in this style. Aifur is located in Stockholm’s ‘Gamla Stan’ (Old town) with it cobbled streets starts to build up your expectations when you approach the place.
Inside Aifur the décor was much more alive like this guy with his Highland Park shield:
Martin Markvardsen said hello upon arrival and after getting a welcoming drink in my hand I quickly found a seat and started chatting with a guy from a local Stockholm whiskyclub.
Shortly after we were treated to a 3 course meal and a lecture about Viking travels by Charlotte Hedenstierna-Jonson from Stockholms University. To accompany the starter there was Highland Park 12yo + 18yo – 2 nice classics which was given a short introduction by Martin.
...and after the starter, it was time for the official launch of the ‘Thor’
Gerry Tosh gave an introduction to this new series and the concept behind before 2 tough looking Vikings in full armor carried a large chest down the stairs and hands Martin the keys.
He then unlocked the chest and in an old-religious style lifts out a bottle of ‘Thor’ and raises it above his head.
At the same time – a dram of the ‘Thor’ is passed around…
So let us de-mystify this much talked about latest release from Highland Park:Highland Park ’Thor’ 16yo 52,1%, 23.000 BottlesCask ratios for this one deserves a mention as it’s not the normal Highland Park style. The ‘Thor’ is 90% refill American oak sherry casks and 10% first fill European oak
My own notes are:Nose:Clearly peated, but not in the heavy islay-style, but still significant compared to the normal Highland Park peating level. At the same time it comes across light and fresh and with an earthy note I can only describe as a dunnage warehouse style. Also very fruity, citrus style, flowers in an orange grove?Taste: The peat hits right away, but like on the nose, its light and disappears to the back of the mouth and lets a large amount tropical fruits and citrus (grape fruits?) notes and some vanilla and oak play on the palate. Also a little spicy and salty in the aftertaste – all which dries out to allow a whiff of trademark Highland Park honey to appear. All in all a whisky with a huge mouthfeel that also allows for finer notes to appear… and what really impresses me with this one, is its incredible freshness all the way on to its medium short finish again with the peat present.
It’s a nice piece of work by Highland Parks whiskymaker Max Mcfarlane for sure.
The next release will hit the streets before the end of the year, but it has still not been decided if it’s going to Freya or Loki that’s next
After the tasting there was a photo-op – here’s Martin Markvardsen and Gerry Tosh and the star of the evening - Thor:
Then it was time for mains and wine and music and entertainment, incl. an demonstration of how the Vikings passed time during the long winter nights. One of the games was ‘cheek pulling’… and the one who gave up first lost, of course – see a demo of it here:
After that it was time to lets some of the impressions settle a bit and have another taste of the ‘Thor’ from the bar and some of the local brew also. Martin and Gerry had commitments with Italian TV so it was a perfect time to indulge myself in another dram.
Before I left for the evening, Martin and I spend some time talking about the whisky scene incl. their business agreement with cooperage at the Sherry Bodega of Gonzales Byass, that does all the cask seasoning for them. Sometimes all the sherry is just poured away or sometimes its reused for another seasoning of new European oak casks. We alsos talked about the craftmansship involved in putting together these casks when a guy almost juggles this 500 liter butt around the coopers yard.
After an introduction to Gerry Tosh, Martin also let me know that Gerry is quitting as Global Brand ambassador to work fulltime in marketing. His job is taken over by Darryl Haldane, which btw is the guy with the mobile in the picture with the 2 cheek-pullers.
It was a very enjoyable evening indeed…and the next day snowy Stockholm showed itself from its beautiful side with the sun coming out just before noon and by that creating the perfect conditions for a walk around the ‘Old Town’ in Stockholm… it is recommended for sure – just as the Highland Park ‘Thor’... so good I just had to have one myself
Finally a thanks to Martin for the invitation to the event.
Please note that a couple of the pictures seems to be cut off on the right side - apparently the forum has a problem with the resolution?