Whiskey Friday: Highland Park Loki

Colin Joliat

Highland Park Loki is more likely to end up in a scotch collector’s cabinet than your stomach. If an opportunity presents itself though, act like Newsies – rise and seize the day.

I was fortunate enough to be invited by Highland Park to join them for a scotch bar crawl in Chicago. There are two things I don’t turn down – bar crawls and a personal top 3 whisky (Highland Park 15). Needless to say I jumped at the chance. The occasion was intended to celebrate the 2nd release in their Valhalla collection, Loki.

The Valhalla collection is four unique yearly expressions that draw inspiration for Norse mythology. The first iteration was Thor, a big bold spirit with a sweet spot for Natalie Portman. I spied a bottle at Chicago whisky staple, Delilah’s, and bought a dram mid-bar crawl. It did not disappoint. The drink of the evening though was the 2013 release, Loki. It’s 15-years old, 48.7% ABV slice of heaven, and it certainly lived up to its namesake. I’ve never been so confused by a scotch in my life.

Highland Park

Highland Park Loki offers the biggest difference between nose and flavor I’ve experienced. The aroma is very light and fruity, and you can easily smell the sherry casks in which it aged. I make a point over being overly nuanced when writing about spirits here, but it’s those details that make Loki so interesting. Why? Because in the time between nosing and tasting this scotch I could have sworn someone swapped out the whisky.

Suddenly I had huge flavor, a little spiciness, a healthy dose of peat (that telltale smokiness some of you love to hate). The only carryover from the nose is the sherry flavor. And unlike a one-note whisky that starts much like it finishes, Loki was a real-life version of Willy Wonka’s “3-Course Meal Gum.” By the time I swallowed, the peat and sherry was long gone and vanilla magically appeared. What? I’m so gloriously confused.

The downside to limited-edition releases is that they are expensive and hard to find. Highland Park Loki is no exception at $250. Between the minimal amount available and the handmade miniature Viking ship that houses the bottle, it’s a completely justifiable price. That doesn’t make it any easier to produce and part with the money. Rest assured, if you can find an excuse to pull the trigger, you won’t be disappointed. Just trick yourself into believing you have to have it.