There's something about the way Highland Park intermingles sherry casks and their signature heather-filled peat that excites me. It's one of my favorite flavor combinations. With their new Valkyrie release, the folks at Highland Park have ramped up the smokiness with the addition of more peated malt. Though Highland Park traditionally use only ex-sherry casks for its whiskies, Valkyrie sees a majority American Oak sherry-seasoned casks and ex-bourbon casks.
The bottle was designed by Danish designer Jim Lynvgild, who turned to Viking mythology as inspiration. Orkney, Highland Park's home, probably has more in common with its Nordic ancestry than it does with its Scottish one. Highland Park has fully embraced the Viking culture over the last several years, even redesigning its core bottles in 2017 to reinforce its Nordic heritage.
The nose here carries the classic HP aromas of sweet malt, dried fruits, heather and some freshly squeezed lemon juice. A touch of orchard fruit pops out of hiding from time to time. Those smoky and fruity notes are alive and well on the palate as well. An initial burst of red fruits lead to spice, dried fruit, figs, heather, and fresh ginger. A moderate wisp of smoke builds. The finish is long, with lingering notes of spiced fruit and light smoke.
Wonderful. Simply wonderful. Cranking up the smoke characteristics over the sherried malt base simply works. I like this NAS offering more than Dark Origins. Valkyrie doesn't come across as vibrant as that other expression, mainly due to its slightly lower abv (it is 45.9% here, by the way), but feels richer and more complex. It reminds me most of the 12-year-old expression with a little more zing. Nicely done! 8.5/10