I love a good story, a deep dark tale of good versus evil, of fighting factions wrapped up in Hamlet-esque dramas that pull one in and enrapture one’s mind.
Long the provenance of the stage, film and novels, I’m noticing more and more whisky companies playing on this angle.
My favourite of late? Highland Park’s Loki, the second release from its Valhalla collection and the follow-up to last year’s Thor.
The tale started when I received an undiscerning package in the post with a origami puzzle inside that I had to decode. When I unfolded the flat black hexagon, it read the following: “All is not as it seems.” Further rearrangement of the puzzle also revealed this: “A serpent stirs in the smoky shadows.” All photo evidence of this puzzle has disappeared from my phone. I can only imagine that gremlins related to this serpent came and ate it.
What it all meant, I was unsure. But, the intriguing part of the tale had begun.
A couple of weeks later, I received the answer in the form of an origami creature, who wrapped his wicked self around a sample bottle of the new Loki whisky.
While the puzzle was solved, there was still much to learn from the tale.
Basing itself on the Norse legends as Highland Park tends to (see this piece on their recent duty free releases, the Warriors) the company had decided to further use this dark history of the Norse Gods to make for an inviting whisky launch.
Legend goes that Loki was a shape shifting, tricky god of fire, full of mischievousness and dark ways. According to Highland Park, Loki has raised his head out of the gloom to take on his adopted brother Thor, who took all the glory with his own whisky launch last year.
Okay, so it’s a bit of a stretch of the imagination, but it’s great fun too isn’t it?
Loki will be released as a very limited edition and packaged in the same wooden frame based on a Viking ship that Thor was presented in last year. The 15-year old sits at a high ABV of 48.7% so it definitely packs a punch. It is retailing for around £120 but a quick look on The Whisky Exchange’s website says it is no longer available, so you may have to search it out in good whisky bars if you want to try it.
I was sent a wee sample of it and here’s what I thought:
(N): Briney, salty and lemony with a smoky twist at first. A tiny hint of salted toffee also comes through along with a touch of mineral water dryness. With water, more of a spun sugar note comes out to combine with the saltiness.
(P): On the palate, this really lives up to its “shape-shifter” persona. There is a wonderful, unexpected sweetness on the palate that belies the saltiness of the nose for me. Tropical fruit also emerges (pineapple, guava and a bit of banana) alongside the rich smoke to make a smoky fruit shake. Surprisingly for a dram of this strength, I didn’t find it to be as rich with water, preferring it neat.
(F): Smoky pineapples.
In short, this has loads of flavour and layers, which definitely change sip after sip and after it’s been in the glass a while. I preferred it neat but it was very pleasant all around, which goes against the slightly darker character of Loki himself.