Highland Park Valknut

”Love Triangle” 

Whisky Review # 895

Country: Scotland
Region: Highlands - Islands - Orkney
Brand: Highland Park Valknut
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 46.8%
Maturation: Sherry-Seasoned American and European Oak + Ex-Bourbon casks
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 60-80  (November 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 👌Okay. It's a little expensive for such a Young Whisky.
Buying Advice: 👍 One of the better HP's I've tasted in recent years. 


Light Amber (Natural Colour)


Pleasant but slightly on the Thin side. The Sherry influences are rather limited. Peat and Smoke weave their spell but they do so in a quiet way. Sweet & Sour notes are in the mix. The high ABV can't hide the fact that this is a rather young Whisky. A hint of Sulphur but nothing too serious. Malt, (Dried) Fruit, Coastal notes and Spice are the main drivers.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Earthy Peat, Smoke from a Distant Fire, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Apricots, Sweet Apple, Fresh Herbs, Dusty Oak, Dough, Pepper and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Buttered Toast, Heather-Honey, Nectarine, Grapefruit, Lemon, Floral Perfume, Wet Rocks, Nuts, Wax, Straw and Grass, Varnish, Leather, Cloves and Aniseed. A hint of Fish on the BBQ.


Not unpleasant but Young and on the Thin side. This Valknut almost screams for an appropriate maturation time to provide it with strength and character. It's a pity really because this Valknut is a potentially excellent whisky! The Palate is Medium-Dry and mainly Sweet but you will find a few Sour and lightly Bitter notes as well for balance.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Earthy Peat, Distant Smoke, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Sultanas, Sweet Apple, Orange, Nectarine, Pepper, Cinnamon, Aniseed, Cloves, Nutmeg and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Toffee, Grapefruit, Lemon, Toasted Pineapple, Blackberry, Fresh Herbs, Leather, Cocoa Powder, Meat and Fish on the BBQ and Peanut Butter.


Middle-Long, Medium-Dry and quite Sweet. A few Bitter and Sour notes towards the end. Peat and Smoke remain discretely in the background although there's perhaps a bit more of it around than in your average Highland Park. I find Toasted Barley, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Salted Caramel, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Plums, Nuts, Dusty Charred Oak, Peat/Smoke, Ashes, Citrus Peel (Orange/Lemon), Wet Rocks, Meat and Fish on the BBQ, Grapefruit Juice, Dark Chocolate, Fresh Herbs, Pepper, Cloves, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, Leather, Mint, Aniseed and Licorice.

Drinking Advice:

A few drops of Water really help to open up the flavors. But don't overdo it as it drowns quickly.

Rating: 86

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience Neat: Good


The distillery was founded in 1798 by David Robertson. It is located in the small town of Kirkwall on the isle of Orkney. Orkney is still quite strongly influenced by its Viking past & the distillery has increasingly used this past as a rather successful marketing tool. Highland Park currently produces around 2.5 million litres of Alcohol & is owned since 1997 by the Edrington Group. The core range basically consists of the 10 (Viking Scars), the 12 (Viking Honour), the 18 (Viking Pride), the 21, 25, 30 and 40 years.

The Viking Legend Series consists of the Valkyrie, the Valknut & the Valhalla, made in partnership with Danish designer Jim Lyngvild who was responsible for the bottle and box design. His 36th grandfather was Ragnvald Eysteinsson, the first Earl of the Orkney Islands. The word Valknut means literally "Knot of Those Slain in Battle". Its symbol of inter-linked triangles on the packaging represents the transition from earthly life to heavenly life. Valknut was released in 2018 and uses a small portion of Orkney-Grown Tartan Barley.

We visited Highland Park in May last year and I really enjoyed the visit despite the terrible weather. Orkney is a special place and I understand the tradition and the bond with the Viking ancestors. It's such a pity that the distillery regularly distorts this picture with mediocre, expensive "Cult" Single Malts based on that theme. But, to be fair, the Valknut is one of the exceptions to the rule. It has its flaws, mainly because it's under-matured. But it also shows a masterful discrete touch of Peat and Smoke that is rare these days. It wouldn't be my favorite whisky to take to heaven once slain on the battlefield but I do consider it to be one of the better Highland Park Whiskies that has been released in recent years. So help me Odin! 


Jan van den Ende                                                                    November 28,2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2019

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