Isle of Orkney-based Highland Park, Scotland’s northernmost distillery, has launched The Warrior Series, a set of five different expressions made specifically for travel retail in Asia.
Each of the expressions are named after formidable Viking jarls, leaders of those fearsome warriors who raided much of northern Europe from their homeland in Scandinavia during the 8th to the 11th centuries. Their dragon-prowed longships terrorized settlements located along the coasts and even up along rivers, unleashing warriors to loot and pillage the surrounding countryside. Many of them would, however, ultimately settle in the (far more hospitable) lands that they raided – the isle of Orkney, where Highland Park is based, included.
First released into Asia in May at Singapore’s Changi Airport, the five whiskies of The Warrior Series – Einar, Harald, Sigurd, Ragnvald, and Thorfinn – is now available in most airports in the Asia Pacific.
If the branding of Highland Park’s The Warrior Series SEEMs familiar, look no further than Highland Park’s own Lief Erikkson, first released in March 2010 also for travel retail and named after the first European to reach America over a thousand years ago.
Each of the five whiskies exhibit distinctly different flavour profiles, although every single one of them features some measure of peat and smoke that’s a signature characteristic of Edrington Group-owned Highland Park (you can find out more about Orkney peat in our interview with global ambassador Daryl Haldane). The use of European oak sherry seasoned casks for Sigurd, Ragnvald and Thorfinn also delivers more complex, richer and sweeter flavours as opposed to the more delicate, fruity notes in Einar and Harald.
The first Warrior expressions, Einar and Harald, saw both bottlings win Gold at the Scotch Whisky Masters Awards 2013.
“Our recent Highland Park portfolio comprised several vintages and the Leif Erikkson limited edition which have performed pretty well in travel retail,” commented Ryan Hill, Managing Director Asia Travel Retail, Edrington. “This new travel-exclusive Warrior range gives us the opportunity to streamline and enhance our presence in global travel retail and provide a sustainable range around the world.”
Highland Park’s Official Tasting Notes
Einar was the joint Earl of Orkney from 1014. A tough and successful Viking, often venturing on many long voyages, he was relentless in his rule and clearly identifiable by his mighty axe.
COLOUR Rich golden, clear and bright
NOSE Pineapple, spicy, wood smoke, dried peel and golden syrup
PALATE Initially smoky and vanilla, citrus peel develops
FINISH Vanilla sweetness and lingering smokiness
Harald was an important character in the founding of the Orkney earldom, as well as having a major role in the development of Viking history. King of Norway, Harald Fairhair was famed for his army, which was revered across the world at that time.
COLOUR Dark golden, clear and bright
NOSE Vanilla, ginger root, peat smoke, dried strawberries and sandalwood
PALATE Victoria sponge, grated nutmeg with a hint of lavender
FINISH Complex and spicy with hints of peel
Sigurd was considered amongst the strongest and most courageous warriors, and ultimately one of the most feared Viking earls featured in the Orkneyinga Saga.
COLOUR Autumnal gold, clear and bright
NOSE Fresh hay bales, mango, golden syrup sponge, caramelized pineapple and a fragrant smokiness
PALATE Sweet lemon peel, spicy cinnamon bark, oaky woodiness and hint of lavender
FINISH Spiciness smokiness with lingering dusty wood notes
Ragnvald was arguably the most famous and pioneering of all Vikings to enter unchartered waters. Nephew of Earl Magnus, Ragnvald was most at home aboard his longship undertaking his many great expeditions throughout the Middle East and even Asia.
COLOUR Medium russet, clear and bright
NOSE Ripe damsons, oriental spices, candied peel and night scented stock
PALATE Well-balanced smoke and sweet, grated nutmeg, vanilla pods and high cocoa chocolate
FINISH Complex lingering gingery spiciness and smoke
Thorfinn was a man of much power and influence, who at one stage controlled the whole of the Orkney Islands. The Orkneyinga Saga described him as a great chief, the tallest and strongest of men whose remains are buried in St Magnus Cathedral on Orkney.
colour Dark russet, clear and bright
nose Cedar wood, camphor, mango, coriander, spicy smokiness and vanilla pods
palate Very complex, ginger root to the fore followed by smoked oak
finish Complex lingering spiciness and smoke