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.