Whisky Focus - Highland Park Spirit Of The Bear Review

Highland Park Spirit Of The Bear Review

20th September 2018
Review of the new Highland Park Spirit Of The Bear travel retail exclusive whisky.

Highland Park Spirit Of The BearThe Highland Park Spirit Of The Bear is the entry level whisky in the new travel retail line-up and is the only whisky in the line-up without an age statement.

Primarily matured in sherry seasoned American Oak casks and bottled at 40% ABV with no added colouring, the Spirit Of The Bear is described by the distillery as having an intense aromatic smokiness which is driven by their unique, woodless Orcadian peat, cut by hand from Hobbister Moor, only seven miles from the High Park distillery on the Orkney Islands.

Priced around £44, it is presented in a 1 litre bottle and packaging which has been inspired by the distillery's Orcadian roots and Viking ancestry, being named for The Bear which held iconic status for the Vikings.

William Morrison's Tasting Notes:

Nose: Light sweet ashy smoke infused with a little sour cooking apple and raisin. A nice touch of vanilla, oak and a little sea salt, a little pineapple in the background.

Taste: Light bodied and a little spirity. A gentle mix of pineapple, pear and grapefruit leads, a little orange citrus, honey, vanilla and some ginger spice makes a late appearance.

Finish: Medium length, the very mild ashy smoke fades leaving a little liquorice and oak spice which bitters out.

Comment: Being a regular traveller myself these travel retail exclusive releases are always of particular interest to me. I was sent samples of this whisky from Highland Park when they launched it over the summer and to be honest I was a little unsure of what to score this one after getting through a 100ml sample, sometimes I like to spend some time with a whisky before scoring it and influencing anyone on whether or not to part with their hard earned cash. Anyway I picked up a 1 litre bottle for myself and have spent more than a few evenings getting to know it and yes my opinion of it has gone up slightly.

It does appear a little young from nose to finish but still, and most importantly, an enjoyable enough dramming whisky from nose to finish. Value for money is a difficult subject to comment on these days when you consider the quality of whisky you would have got for £44 from travel retail just two or three years ago. So in comparison to what you can pick up in travel retail today for £44 and considering it is a 1 litre bottle which is becoming a rarity in travel retail these days I would say it is probably priced right when you consider that most airport shops run offers such as "Any 2 Whiskies For £XX", and I am sure you will find the Highland Park Spirit Of The Bear as part of an offer at some point and that is when to pick up a bottle.

Likely a mix of whisky up to around 8 year old, if they had left this maturing for a few more years I suspect this could have been approaching a score of 90/100. So "Spirit" of the Bear is probably an apt name for this slightly young spirity dram, but look out for offers at the airport if you are looking for an easy drinking every day dramming whisky.

SMW Score 80/100

Look out for the new Highland Park Travel Retail exclusive collection next time you are passing through the airport but if you have no plans to travel in the near future you will find the current Highland Park domestic core range as well as some limited edition releases available from specialist online whisky retailers such as The Whisky Exchange, The Whisky Shop and Master of Malt

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