Bottle Name: Highland Park 16 year old Wings of the Eagle
ABV: 44.5% Distillery: Highland Park Region: Islands
Our final Highland Park animal review takes to the skies with the Wings of the Eagle. The oldest of the Beasts series, the bottling draws its influence from the Norse legend of Yggdrasil – an ancient and sacred ‘worldtree’ that was said to be home to several birds - Veðrfölnir,a hawk and a giant unnamed eagle. The story dates back some 700 years, to the 13th Century ‘Poetic Edda’ – a collection of old Norse poems.
The bottling is a little less venerable, having been matured for 16 years in both sherry-seasoned European oak casks and American oak (presumably ex-bourbon) casks. It’s bottled at 44.5% ABV and is available in a standard 70cl bottle for £79.
Nose: Starting gently and a little inconspicuously, this opens in the glass becoming much more expansive. There’s plenty of smooth chocolate and pralines, livened with cranberries, raspberries, cinnamon and cloves. Sweetness comes from golden syrup and burnt toffee and is joined by orange zest, vanilla and hints of chopped almonds. Smoke is quite background – wispy and gentle, with trademark heather, tobacco leaves and singed paper. With water some additional fruitiness – peaches and apricots, as well as some sappy tree bark and leather.
Taste: The arrival has solid weight and texture, delivering chocolate cake, reduced berries, a scattering of raisins and some sugared almonds. There’s plenty of wild honey – sweet, but floral and meadow. Peat is present, but very much on the down low here – burnt autumnal leaves and a gentle sense of charred hay and oak. The addition of water brings out some nuttiness and cask spicing – ginger and nutmeg, as well as also emphasising the peaches and apricots that were detected on the nose.
Finish: Medium with chocolate, toffee and crystalline ginger spicing.
Wings of the Eagle feels the most ‘Highland Park’ of the new Travel Retail beasts – its solidly composed, characterful and with a slight sense indulgence from the European sherry oak. To my palate, it’s the most successful of the three new releases and despite being smaller in size and more expensive is well worth checking out.
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