Waiting for a flight to board can be seriously tedious business so browsing the duty free shop for fine spirits is often a welcomed distraction. Its made all the more interesting (for us whisky geeks) when you come across something that's exclusive to travel retail. At the very least, if these off piste whiskies don't tickle your fancy, you'll be impressed by the manliness of the 1 litre bottles.
Highland Park have announced a new range of whiskies entitled 'The Warrior Series' which draw on the Orkney distillery's strong Norse heritage. They’ve named each of the bottlings after infamous Viking Earls who once presided over the remote islands. The first three in the series being Svein, Einar and the notorious Harald retailing at €40, €53 and €75 respectively.
The name Highland Park is preceded by a reputation for considerable consistency and the general quality of its ever-expanding range. The distillate is well known as one of the most balanced and multifaceted of any produced in Scotland, bringing together a sweet fruity elegance, dry coastal character and threads of aromatic, delicately floral smoke. That said, in recent times the brand’s focus seems to have shifted somewhat from subtle, flavour-led marketing to premium packaging and a greater emphasis on limited editions and themed releases.
The ultra-premium “Orcadian Vintage” bottlings aside, I can’t say that this new area of Highland Park whiskies has been entirely convincing. Several bottlings have come across as having rather more style than substance and, depending on your point of view, you may wish to see less of the RRP being directed toward packaging. So, on to the old favourites then and they don’t come much more classic, reliable or respected than the standard 18 year old. It’s a release that has earned awards all over the world and a following that makes it a permanent fixture on many a whisky lover’s shelf.