Booze Review

Norse Mythology and Orcadian Whisky. A Review of Highland Park Fire Edition.


thor-odin-lokiOver the past few years, Highland Park has been seriously playing up Orkney’s Norse heritage with several of their limited release whiskies. Their Valhalla Collection featured four expressions named after the Norse gods Thor, Loki, Freya, and Odin, while their Ice and Fire Editions are named after Norse mythology’s Ice and Fire Giants. And then there’s the Warrior Series which was mostly sold in European travel retail outlets. Each expression in the Warrior Series was named after real figures from Nordic history with connections to Orkney.

Now if you’ve spent any time in your local multiplex over the past several years, then you are well aware that in addition to inspiring several Highland Park whiskies, these Norse gods and giants have also played an important role in several films from the cinematic powerhouse known as Marvel Studios, which just happens to be owned by The Walt Disney Company. Given that the release dates (between 2011 and 2015) of Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron are VERY close to the release dates of these Norse mythology inspired Highland Park whisky expressions (between 2012 and 2016), I am beginning to wonder if there’s some sort of connection between Highland Park and Disney. These thoughts have of course led me to Spaceballs and Yogurt’s merchandising theory of the universe…

So is there any connection between Highland Park and The Walt Disney Company, and if so, are these Norse mythology inspired whiskies a form of merchandising geared towards whisky loving comic book geeks? While I have yet to find a direct connection between The Walt Disney Company and Highland Park, I did find one possible thread that connects these two entities…

In July of 2005,  2646-2656 Griffith Park Blvd. and 3027-3033 Angus St. in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles were added to the list of Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments (#163 on the list) through the efforts of Charles J. Fisher and the Highland Park Heritage Trust. These Silver Lake addresses were the home of the Walt Disney Studios Animation School from 1935 to 1940. So there you have it, a very thin (and incredibly murky) link between a Highland Park and The Walt Disney Company!

Now that we have all of my nonsense out of the way, let’s move on to a review of the latest Nordic themed whisky release from Highland Park, the aforementioned Fire Edition. Here’s what they had to say about this whisky in a press release that landed in our inbox not so long ago…

FIRE Edition is a special bottling that delves into the world of classic Norse mythology and celebrates the Viking roots of Highland Park’s Orkney islands home. Matured exclusively in 100% refill Port wine casks, FIRE Edition follows the release of ICE Edition which was awarded 99/100 and the Chairman’s Trophy in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2016. FIRE Edition completes the two part series inspired by the stories of the Ice and Fire Giants and their battles against the Gods to rule the world.

Jason R. Craig, Global Brand Director, commented: “Maturing our distinctive whisky in 100% refill Port wine seasoned casks is a first for Highland Park and the result is a vibrant, 15 year old single malt with an ABV of 45.2%. FIRE Edition has a slight reddish hue, (which is its natural color), intense aromas of ruby red fruits, light smoke and a long, lingering finish. However, it is still, unmistakably, Highland Park.”

The bespoke crimson red colored glass was specially commissioned to represent the fierce and molten world of the Fire Giants from Viking mythology. The bottle is encased in a distinctive black wooden cradle with accompanying black wooden stopper. A booklet, also included with the bottle, recounts the story of the realm of the Fire Giants and their epic battle against the Gods to rule the world.

According to Viking legends, Surtr was an evil Fire Giant who ruled the Fire Realm. He would sit at the edge of the kingdom, defending the land by holding a burning sword, which shone brighter and hotter than the sun. The culmination of these tales is an apocalyptic battle between the Gods and the Giants. Surtr led the sons of Muspell across the bridge of Bifröst, burning everything in sight at Asgard (realm of Gods; Thor, Loki, Freya and Odin) and destroying the world at Ragnarök, heralded as ‘The doom of the Gods.’ The world perished in a blazing and burnishing ball of flames and from the ashes, a new earth was recreated.

And here’s what we thought of the latest whisky from Highland Park…

highland-park-fire

  • Appearance: Pale copper color.
  • ABV: 45.2%
  • Aroma
    • Limpd: A good bit of the barrel, honeysuckle, vanilla and raisins.
    • G-LO: Lots of Port notes coming through. Brown sugar. Baking spices. Dark dried fruit. Musty grapes. This actually smells dry. Is that even possible?
  • Taste
    • Limpd: Not overly thick. Light, fresh and fruity at the onset. Almost refreshing at first, and then the heat kicks in. It’s a bit of a minty, peppery heat that is far from overpowering and actually quite pleasant. The finish is long and a good bit drying, with the heat now subdued to a gentle warmth that continues into the finish.
    • G-LO: Lightly oily mouthfeel. Starts off lightly sweet and fruity, but then it heats up quickly with some peppery cinnamon spice. Gets quite dry at the finish with lingering baking spice and dark dried fruit flavors.

The Verdict

  • Limpd: The ROK had been on a Highland Park kick for a while and we had the benefit of trying a good bit of their lineup. This is altogether different. Sweet but not overly so. Ditto for the heat. And the finish was just fantastic. The overall quality and balance was superb. Well done!
  • G-LO: It’s been quite some time since I’ve had anything from Highland Park. This is definitely much different from their core expressions. I really enjoyed it, especially at the finish. I particularly liked how it balanced the dryness against the sweet and spicy notes. Yummy stuff!

________________________________________________________

Many thanks to Joe Gallo of M Booth for sending us this very generous sample!

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