The Highland Park Valhalla Collection finishes on a high note
The nectar of the gods may be restricted to Norse mythology, but you can still enjoy a little taste of the divine thanks to award-winning Scottish distillery Highland Park, which recently debuted the fourth and final whisky in its Valhalla Collection. Following Thor in 2012, Loki in 2013 and Freya in 2014, Odin is an intense whisky that aims to capture the powerful god’s unique characteristics.
“There is no one else who can come last to finish off the collection—it had to be Odin,” says Daryl Haldane, global brand advocate for Highland Park. Channeling the revered Norse god, who is said to have sacrificed an eye in order to gain the wisdom of the ages, the distillery’s Odin whisky features intense and complex flavours.
Creating a whisky that would reflect Odin’s dominant characteristics was certainly a challenge, but the distillery rose to the occasion. The result is a powerful 16-year-old single malt featuring Highland Park’s trademark smoky aroma, as well as heavy notes of peat and Spanish oak.
“It’s unusual for Highland Park to dial up that Spanish oak and the peat at the same time—this is like an attack on your senses really, the way it comes together,” says Haldane.
Also known as the All-father, the legendary Odin was said to be particularly wise and fierce, so the distillery chose to age the whisky in Spanish oak casks to reflect the god’s character. “Because Odin is the top dog, we put it at slightly higher strength at 55.8 per cent ABV—SO it really packs a punch,” he adds.
Influenced by Orkney’s unique land and climate, Highland Park whiskies tend to showcase sweet and gentle peaty aromas. Odin hasn’t strayed too far from the distillery’s signature attributes, although it’s more intense than usual. “In Odin, you have this powerful peat and still get that smoky flavour, plus lovely Spanish oak, and lots of fruit and spices,” says Haldane.
The distillery’s creative and carefully crafted Valhalla Collection aims to combat the perception of whisky as a predictable, traditional spirit. “Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to do anything that is a bit more outrageous and exciting, and that’s all that we really want to do—ruffle a few feathers and break the norm, but still tell a heritage story,” says Haldane.
By drawing on Norse mythology for the collection, the Scottish distillery simultaneously showcases its own heritage. Founded more than 200 years ago by Magnus Eunson, a Scotsman of Norwegian descent, the distillery resides off the northeast coast of Scotland in the Orkney archipelago, which was settled by Vikings in the late ninth century and ruled by Norway until the late 1400s. Still today, about a third of Orkney residents are actually direct descendants of Nordic countries.
“There are lots of people who are not whisky fans and don’t really consume whisky,” says Haldane. “They bought the collection simply because they just liked it—they liked the packaging and the storytelling.”
words of wisdom Daryl Haldane, global brand advocate for Highland Park
swansong Highland Park chose Odin, an intense, 16-year-old single malt, to conclude the Valhalla Collection