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KCM Spirit Reviews

Friday, March 14, 2014

Review 206: Highland Park Loki 15 Year

Review 206
Highland Park Loki 15 Year: 48.7% abv

Background: This is a pretty special review for the KCM crew here. This is the first time we’re reviewing a truly limited edition bottling, albeit this is limited edition in the sense that there was a bottle of whisky that came before it and one that’ll come after it, and they’ll be presented the same, but they’ll be different…somehow. So you might call this a “vintage release without the vintage”. Highland Park Loki is part of their Valhalla collection. The whisky is at least 15 Years old, and bottled at almost 49%, which is a nice thing considering how much you pay for the whisky. Highland Park spends their time telling you about Loki in Norse mythology and how it relates to the whisky, but I’m not going to do that. What I’ll do is tell you how this is a 15 Year whisky at $275 a bottle. Obviously you’ll be wondering, why would I pay that kind of money for such a young whisky?


Nose: The Highland Park Loki starts off in the nose with a battle between a huge fruitiness and a coastal saltiness. The fruitiness is consistent of HP classic orange marmalade, citrus, green grapes, blueberry, dark cherry and other tropical fruits like bananas. There is a complex oak and malt, coupled with creamy vanilla and custard. This whisky also brings out spicy notes of chai tea, clove and allspice. The whisky also has a profound, deep floral smell to it. In additional, cinnamon apple contributes to a smell of both spiciness and sweet fruitiness. There is a very green, earthly aroma that presents itself in the nose as well. It is almost a mossy type aroma that comes through.
Arrival: There is a lot of malt in the arrival, along with a tart cherry sweetness. Plenty of oak can be found in the arrival, along with a substantial amount of spiciness. The whisky is pretty coastal in the arrival, with a slight amount of saltiness and tropical fruits as well. There is a lot of spiciness in the arrival, with mild black pepper, cinnamon, allspice, and gingerbread coming through.

Body: The body is very strongly herbal, with a  large amount of cilantro and mint coming through, along with an earthy presence as well. There is a strong maltiness, along with green apple, lime citrus, green melon, and body.

Finish: The finish contains the same amount of herbal presence as the rest of the whisky, including the mint and cilantro seen before. There is a lot more of an herbal quality to the finish than in the body. There is also a leathery quality to the whisky in the finish, that would be associated with a much older whisky. The finish is absolutely medicinal, and contains a bitter green tea flavor as well. There is a small amount of malt that fades off with the finish.

With Water

Nose: The herbal and citrus notes are very dominant after adding water. The whisky starts off with a much more potent nose. There is a change of balance, as some of the vanilla sweetness gets lost, and is replaced with an increase in bitter floral notes and coastal saltiness. There is a little bit of graham cracker in the nose as well now.

Arrival: The arrival stills contains some beautiful spiciness, along with some maltiness and herbal notes. The arrival is more mild than before.

Body: The body becomes intensely more herbal than before adding water, with bold flavors. There is also more maltiness, with the sweetness from the whisky becoming more dormant. There is a vanilla wafer flavor that comes through in the body as well now. There is a good amount of woodiness in the body, that bleeds into the finish.

Finish:  The finish is woody, with some old notes of leather and wood polish. It still is hugely herbal. There is a high dominance of woodiness in the finish that seems more prevalent than before adding water.

Final Comments: Wow…this is a whisky which raises the bar. This is complex, balanced, unique, and all around a beautiful statement by Highland Park. The KCM crew believes this whisky has some older whiskies in it by its taste profile, and it contributes to a more mature, complex flavor than you would expect from a 15 Year.  Now, let’s be clear. I’m not going to spend the next few minutes telling you about how this whisky is worth $275, because it really isn’t. The reason it isn’t is because for $200 less you could buy something of marginally worse quality and still have an undoubtedly fantastic whisky. So this bottle is for people who have the money to spend; and if you do, this HP will not disappoint. If you were going to buy a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, this would be a better alternative and you wouldn’t look like an ass.
Why you’d buy it: You have a lot of money and want something you can appreciate and use to decorate your mantle.
Why you wouldn’t: You’re like most people and don’t want to spend almost $300 on a consumable bottle of liquid that actually does more to dehydrate you than offer sustenance.

Score:  10/10

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