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Highland Park Thor 16 Year Old Valhalla Collection

Average score from 4 reviews and 4 ratings 90

Highland Park Thor 16 Year Old Valhalla Collection

Product details

  • Brand: Highland Park
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • Series: Valhalla Collection
  • ABV: 52.1%
  • Age: 16 year old

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@MaltActivist
Highland Park Thor 16 Year Old Valhalla Collection

I remember when the Thor came out. I scoffed. I saw the fancy packaging (and believe me when I say fancy I mean Norse boat fancy), the really high price (high for a 16 year old, that is) and I said 'whatever, dude'.

Another marketing gimmick, I thought to my self. So sick of these distilleries packaging youngish spirit in fancy boxes and selling them for so much. So as a matter of principle I decided not to even bother.

Then I started reading some reviews and they were all good. I mean really good. I relented. I said fine, I'll get one. But when I tried looking I couldn't find a single bottle. The only ones I saw were sitting on auction blocks put up by smart investors. And they were more than four times the original price!

Well, now I was definitely not going to bother.

So it was a nice surprise to see an open bottle sitting on a friends' shelf which I duly took down to see what all the fuss was all about.

The first of four in the Valhalla collection this sherry matured liquid is served up at 52.1% and is one of 23,000 bottles sold worldwide. My sample was from a bottle two-thirds over and would have benefited from some oxidization.

Nose: Clove. Sherry. Mango. A very unusual oak. I think the oxidization may have taken away some of the malty notes. I've notice HPs lose their brine/malty aroma after a while. Red berries. Cherry cola. Cinnamon. Red licorice. Touch of iodine. Pinch of salt. A very balanced and unique nose.

Palate: Crisp sherry. Chocolate. Black peppers. Cola. Cherries. Brown sugar. Grapes. Dark citrus. Hint of nuts. A lovely delivery. Very smooth and very confident.

Finish: Long. Oily. Juice with a touch of spice.

Such a lovely expression! Crisp and confident. I'm kicking my self for not picking it up when I had the chance.

I agree. These over-the-top HP releases are easy to dismiss. Are they worth the money? Well...

But I've sampled both the Thor and the Freya and found them really distinctive. Thor was rich, and like you said, confident. Freya was more delicate, nuanced, and fresh. If they were reasonably priced from the get-go, I'd be cheerleading the Valhalla collection myself. But yeah, they're definitely easier to swallow when pulled from a friend's collection. Thanks, @MaltActivist.

It is easy to understand this marketing: HP knows which are the best casks and charges 'top Pound' for them. The tricky part is finding someone's 'artistic taste' to trust completely, to the tune of your money being spent on their high value assessment of all of the whiskies which they may recommend. Is there anybody whose whisky artistic taste I would trust that much? Probably not anybody at a commercial distillery. I'd have to taste it first to justify a relatively high price tag.

@WhiskyNotes

Highland Park started a new limited quartet (similar to their Saint Magnus trilogy) called Valhalla Collection. In the best story-telling tradition, all four will be named after Norse legends and gods and the first one is Highland Park Thor. Loki, Freia and Odin will follow later.

The whisky is 16 years old, cask strength ('Thor' strength) and it’s presented in an impressive boat-like wooden frame. For more information, head over to the official website Whisky of the Gods.

Nose: the first thing that strikes me is its sweetness (as I don’t associate sweetness to a God like Thor). I get peach jam, stewed yellow plums, vanilla, barley sugars. Candied ginger. Over time the peatiness and sooty smoke move forward. I like this combination a lot, it’s fresh and relatively powerful at the same time.

Mouth: punchy, with a more earthy kick of peat and smoke, but it retains this sweet coating of candied apples and pear candy. Quince jelly. Hints of cassis even. Dollops of honey. Vanilla biscuits. A faint salty twist.

Finish: long, still fruity (citrus) and subtle spices. Still a hint of smoke in the very end.

This is not just a nice packaging, it’s a rather fruity Highland Park, mixed nicely with some peat smoke and spices. It’s certainly a different style of HP but a lovely one. If you ask me this Valhalla Collection started off in a much better way than the previous trilogy already. It’s not all positive news though as it’s way overpriced, so in that respect I would have dropped the wooden frame.

witch whiskies would be considerd better then this one for around the same amount ?

i own one of these bottles witch i bought here in the netherlands for 114 euro during the wild whiskey days ( 25 % discount on ALL whiskies )of a major liquor store franchise still pretty pricy but alot better then the 154 euro it normally costs :)

Very informative review, thanks WN!

J

Nose: Ginger, leathers, grassy, campfire cinders and coal, earthy, butterscotch, caramals and dates.

Palate: Well done toast with a good coating of creamy honeys, ginger and nutmeg spices, white tea, smooth earthiness, syrupy, light smooth smoke.

Finish: lovely toastiness, earthy spices, creamy thick honeys, smooth smoke.

Interesting, very different from the other HP's I've experienced (12, 18, 25), A few people I know balked at the idea that a 16yo with fancy packaging costs as much as this does, I kind of agree. There are really only 2 reasons why you would buy this whisky:

1, you are a massive HP fan and you must own every bottle they release

2, you are a massive HP fan and you want to experience a different style of HP that is also bottled at cask strength.

In reality however when it comes down to it the 18yo HP is better and costs significantly less and the 25yo is better and costs around the same.

Also about the thor I have to mention that this whisky does really well with a few drops of water, like really really well. If reviewed with a few drops I'd rate it around 92. Also on a superficial note the package is very nice, not flimsy or cheap in any way.

sorry about the massive bold letters, not sure what happened there.

@galg

Highland Park is one of my top 3 distilleries, and there are always a few bottles in my bar from this wonderful Orkney distillery. 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?

Good review!! This has been a whisky I've been interested in for a while now, but was waiting for a review from someone I trusted!

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