Highland Park’s rich Viking embodiment shows how the distillery has embraced the heritage in branding, spirit and bottling. I simply adore the intricate and detailed art that caresses the glass canvas, coupled with the spectrum of golden hues that bounce off its contours.
A recent overseas travel got me spoilt for choice and it was one particular expression that caught my fancy – Highland Park’s Spirit of the Bear. This specific bottling is one from a herd of four. Each highlighting an animal and how its associations have influenced the Viking way of life. The bottling highlights their voracity and the wild energy they carry as they stride into war, taking inspiration from the the bold and fierce nature of the wild bear.
Blessed with a greater proportion of locally peated malt, this chemistry lends the spirit its “Bold and Smoky” flavour. Casks leveraged for this malt are sherry seasoned, vatted from malts aged in a combination of barrels – first fill European and American oak along with refill casks. It is then diluted down to a strength of 40% before being bottled.
ABV : 40%
Eye : Deep copper | Chill filtered, Caramel Colouring
Nose : Introduces itself with a fresh grassy earthiness, brine and a pinch of vanilla with a swirl of honey nougat. There’s a hint of dried fruits which is soon taken over by charred cantaloupe. A warm comforting fusion of ginger, spice and cardamom
Taste : Vanilla dawns on the palate at first, with salt and maritime crawling in a little later. Quite tropical with the sweetness of melons, dried fruits and maple syrup, only to be finished with a brush of charred wood, some peat and some spice.
Finish : Vanilla with a touch of stone fruits interleaved with earthy and oaky nuances.
Young and crisp with a good dollop of peat for a Highland brew; the whisky is restrained with a subdued sweetness that slowly evolves and widens out on the palate. Quite viscous and complex, there is a bounty of fruity influences coming from both tropical fruits along with influences from the sherry cask.
At around AUD $78, I find this a good catch and like most Highland Parks, they pack in a variety of flavours coupled with a decent handful of peat. This one’s a travel retail expression and the added discount just gave it more value for money considering it to be a one litre bottling. I hadn’t had much hopes initially but this did surprise me.