Bottle Name: Highland Park 14 year old Loyalty of the Wolf
ABV: 42.3% Distillery: Highland Park Region: IslandsAge: 14
Our second Highland Park ‘Beast’ review comes in the form of Loyalty of the Wolf. The expression has been matured in a combination of sherry-seasoned American oak and ex-bourbon casks and sits in the middle of the new range both in terms of age, and in terms of price. Strangely, despite this being a wide global release, I’ve already seen bottles trading hands on auctions for much more than the RRP – HP has always engendered a strange sense of unequivocal brand loyalty.
Loyalty of the Wolf is available in both 35cl and 1 litre bottles - the full-size version will set you back £57. It’s bottled at 42.3%.
Nose: A somewhat similar aroma profile to the Spirit of the Bear the we reviewed yesterday – though immediately richer and smokier. Vanilla pods, custard cream biscuits, coconut shavings and a compote of stewed apples and jammy red berries. Peat smoke is revealed slowly – initially wispy, but after resting in the glass, much more of a swirling mist – inland, heathery and floral. In the background a lovely hint of salinity that tempers the richer and sweeter aromas. The addition of water brings out some freshly baked patisserie - buns, cinnamon swirls and cupcakes.
Taste: The arrival has a nice viscosity and weight to it – part oily, part syrupy. It delivers cereals drizzled with plenty of wild honey, milk chocolate and spent coffee grounds. The fruits here are more orchard rather than berries – both apples and pears – slightly off-ripe and therefore a touch tart. The peat smoke is much more prevalent than on the nose – heathery, with a peppery influence and a good shake of cinnamon. Reduced (be careful, the ABV is quite low here), there’s an improved balance with softer, sweeter fruits, and a better integration of smoke.
Finish: Medium with earthy peat, nuts (walnut), ginger spice and a touch of dryness.
Loyalty of the Wolf is quite the step up from Spirit of the Bear. The aromas and flavours are better defined, the delivery is sharper and with more weight and balance between ex-bourbon, sherry and underlying smoke generally more successful. But, despite coming in a whole litre bottle - £57 still feels quite steep here.