I came back from this year’s edition of Spirits in the Sky in Brussels, Belgium, and brought a treasure trove of samples. One of them is Highland Park Triskelion, a very special edition made with a combined 100 years of experience. I felt giddy inside.
The Highland Park twist to the all-familiar joke actually explains how Triskelion came to be. 3 Master Whisky Makers – Gordon Motion, Max McFarlane and John Ramsay – enter the warehouses of Highland Park. They choose a single cask each, and decide to bring them together in a delicious threesome.
The idea behind it? To ‘explore the influence of wood and cask seasoning on the flavour and character of the Highland Park whisky’. They can keep their marketing talk. Instead, they simply have to say that they tried to create the best damn whisky they could make together. And I would believe them.
The Tasting Session
Nosing the Triskelion made me think of milk chocolate, vanilla, and a touch of spice. If there is a smoky note, I have yet to discover it.
I tasted a whisky that slowly started to warm up as I swirled it around, offering a gently increasing, though still subtle burn in the front of my mouth. I can only describe it as delicately creamy, lightly smoked, with a hint of freshness at the end. Not as oily as I expected it to be, and a perfect combination in my opinion: smoke, cream, and fresh touch, beautifully brought together in one dram.
Additional tasting revealed hints of grape juice, perhaps even figs? A hint of caramel? There’s a lot going on! I like whiskies who only gently reveal themselves to you. It makes you wonder how long you have to keep nipping until you have experienced everything the whisky has to offer. An educated guess tells me I might experience familiar notes next time I have a glass of Triskelion, but I will also discover a new aspect to it.
After I had finished my tasting session, I still had a lovely smoky impression in my mouth, the ‘ghost of the dram‘, with a tinge of tobacco, right at the end.
A good friend of mine told me that you can learn a lot from revisiting whiskies. As your palate grows, you start picking up different notes. It’s only natural. The more you taste, the more your olifactory memory expands, the more you discover, and so on.
If you want to read more Highland Park reviews, check my review of Twisted Tattoo!
As my Highland Park tasting experiences keep expanding, I’m looking forward to the next expression. Come to think of it, I have a sample of the 2008 (10y) single cask special release, exclusively available in Belgium…
Onwards, my dear friends! There’s whisky to taste and reviews to write!
Addendum: The Triskelion Symbol
Here’s what I found about the “Triskelion”, one of the most important Viking symbols:
“Three interlocked drinking horns is an important Norse Viking symbol. It seems to be closely related the Valknut and Triquetra and is often referred to as the Horn Triskelion. A triskelion (or triskele) is a symbol with threefold rotational symmetry (such symmetry means that a figure, which has it, looks the same after a certain amount of rotation). Translated from Greek the word triskelion means ‘three-legged’. The Horn Triskelion symbolizes Odin: to obtain the mead of poetry (skáldskaparmjöðr) he bargained three nights with the giantess Gunnlöð for three sips of the mead. However, with each sip he drank a whole horn. Since the three horns he drank contained the whole of the mead, Odin thus got all of it and fled in the shape of an eagle.
The horns’ names were Óðrœrir, Boðn and Són. These three horns contained the mead since the time when the dwarves Fjalar and Galar killed a wise man called Kvasir created from the spittle of Æsir and Vanir. There were no questions Kvasir could not answer. The two dwarves killed him, mixed his blood with honey and poured the beverage into Óðrœrir, Boðn and Són. In Norse Viking mythology the mead of poetry is a symbol of wisdom and poetical inspiration. According to the Prose Edda, whoever drinks it becomes a skald or scholar.”
– Horn Triskelion: Three Horns Viking Symbol, https://www.vikingrune.com/2009/01/viking-symbol-three-horns/, my emphasis.
Photography is © Mickaël Van Nieuwenhove, © Highland Park, and © Senatus.net