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Wednesday, 26 January 2011

A Leif From The Old Book...?

This month, Highland Park are very nearly the first out the traps with their new release of 2011.
Exclusive to Travel Retail (which seems to be a growing trend these days) the Orkney distillery have attempted something a little different with this bottling. It's called Leif Eriksson, after the Icelandic pioneer, who crossed the Atlantic back in the 11th century and settled in Newfoundland and Labrador. (It's also the name of an Interpol track, from their album 'Turn On The Bright Lights')

One wonders whether the 2 settlements were named intentionally after famous dogs, or whether the mighty Leif took a few canine travelling companions along? Perhaps in his spare time between carpentry and occasional pillaging, he was the very first to establish Canada's first version of 'Crufts'? I can understand where Barbara Woodhouse got her confidence from now...

Anyway, The Highland Park Leif Eriksson is a NAS whisky, bottled at 40%, matured wholly in American Oak- both sherry and bourbon seasoned. Where does it sit in comparison to the other HP expressions on the market and more importantly, would Leif proclaim this one a 'Best In Show'?

Highland Park - Leif Eriksson - Exclusive to Travel Retail - 40%

Nose: Very distinct and bold in its approach. Perfumed, with floral/citrus notes, roast ham and pinenuts. In fact, there is a huge note of pine freshness/herbaceous aroma, which seems to spring more into life with each sniff. very lively indeed.

Palate: Baked, spiced apple, with plenty of butter, a heady dose of aromatic peat, leading into some juicy red berries, tinned peaches and cream and some very subtle notes of some fragrant plums. Very well balanced and, extremely drinkable.

Finish: The plummy notes continue as the palate dries, with lingering peat smoke, but in that gentle, classic floral HP way.

Overall: Whilst we're not particularly fans of the continual trend towards Travel Retail bottlings in general, Highland Park keep making really decent whisky for a very specific market. The vintage bottlings released last February (the 1990, 1994 and 1998) demonstrated how to get the most from the classic house style of HP and the Leif Eriksson, whilst probably not in the same league as the sensational 1990 bottling, stands up firmly and is a welcome addition to the expressions.

Leif would be proud and would no doubt celebrate, by throwing his dogs a slap-up dinner. Maybe even like this one...