Thursday 29 August 2019

Highland Park Valfather - Asia regional launch party, Taipei (Tasted #463)

Edrington certainly know how to throw a good party or dinner, but for Highland Park's latest release last week, they took it up a notch by holding a regional launch in Taipei, and flying in select media from various Asian markets. As one of four HK media outlets chosen to attend, we spent a fantastic 3 days in Taipei, covering 3 events all focused on the newest member of the Highland Park Family, Valfather.

The third and final in the "Viking Legends" trilogy (which began with Valkyrie and was followed by Valknut), Valfather is the disitllery's peatiest release yet, and represents the third collaboration with Danish Designer Jim Lyngvild. Bottled with No Age Statement and at 47% ABV, the whisky was matured entirely in refill casks.

Held at Brickyard 33 1/3 in the mountains surrounding Taipei, we weren't quite sure what to expect at first. Would it be a dinner? A tutored tasting? A booklet handed to us on the shuttle bus from the hotel (the stunning Humble House in downtown Taipei) gave a clue, outlining a number of activities we could take part in, to earn stamps and ultimately win Highland Park prizes.

The first involved having a picture taken with live Falcons (the more adventurous could hold the birds on an out-stretched arm too - see below). 

Alcohol and birds of prey - a winning combination!

Next was Highland Park's take on the beanbag toss...

 ..followed by an activity where guests could make their own personalised Highland Park keyring.

With all stamps collected, guests then needed to seek out a mysterious cloaked woman"who gave provided guests with their final prizes, an assortment of keyrings and other gifts.

With the games over, it was time for a Highland Park. Bar staff were kept busy all night serving a range of Highland Park drams, as well as a bespoke cocktail made specifically for the event - a twist on a Highland Park whisky sour.

After canapés and a few drams, guests congregated inside to hear from the two guests of honour - Gordon Motion (Highland Park Master Whisky Maker) and Jim Lyngvild (designer for the Viking Legends series).

Following a dramatic video introduction and an explanation of the Viking mythology and designs beheind the trilogy by Jim Lyngvild (himself a direct descendant of Orkney Vikings), Gordon Motion took the stage to talk us through a tasting of the new Valfather.

Designed to be a "light, ethereal" whisky to replicate Valhalla (Heaven), Gordon explained the whisky was matured entirely in refill butts and we all noticed it had a noticeably lighter hue when compared with the first two in the series.


Highland Park "Valfather" (47% ABV, NAS, Orkney, Scotland, $588HKD)
Colour: Pale yellow sunrise.

Nose: Citrus smoke at first. More noticeable peat than previous HPs, but still very much Orkney peat (think earthy notes and heather, rather than iodine or smoked kippers). Hints of apple, green bananas, and some orange vanilla cream biscuits.

Palate: Gentle, sweet smoke wafts in and out, surrounded by notes of apple, toffee, vanilla slice and Crème brûlée.

Finish: Long with a vegetal, slightly floral smoke.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale):  88/100. An enjoyable (and suitably unique) end to the series. See here for comparison notes: Valkyrie & Valknut.

The next day, following an interview with both Gordon and Jim we were able to compare and contrast the series side-by-side, over lunch with a special new Highland Park added for good measure. Posts to follow shortly.


A big thanks must go to Edrington HK for the invitation, and Edrington Taiwan / Singapore for the hospitality during our trip to Taipei.

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