[This is the middle of three higher-end travel retail only releases from Highland Park.]
The Highland Park Ragnvald opens with chervil and celeriac, emulsion of oysters, Esben Holmboe Bang, and Pontus Dahlstrøm.
[Stephen: Bill! You’re just copying information from the website of MAAEMO, the only Michelin 2-star restaurant in Oslo that has an English website! Furthermore, Esben and Pontus are chefs, not food!]
The Highland Park Ragnvald has a notable color, the essence of crème brûlée served flambé in a mahogany burl, but translucent. It’s beautiful to look at, casuistry and hemophilia spun into gold by Rasputin. Nosing smoked leeks, angel juice leaks, and roast eider duck breast. An orange, dipped in 60% cacao dark chocolate, briefly immersed in a fjord of bourbon. This is multi-layered and complex, a connoisseur’s dram. Fig newtons recreated by a non-Newtonian Heisenbergian sub-molecular quantum chef who apprenticed as a saucier at elBulli. I’m…I’m…running naked through a cedar forest festooned with heather. No, John, neither Heather Graham nor Heather Locklear. Dried whortleberries studding a narwhal-suet toffee pudding that was stirred with a unicorn horn at the Althing, with Ragnvald murmuring prayers to Odin. I wish this was served in the plastic pitchers at the camp I wish I attended as a kid.
Fruity mouth explosions like playing Fruit Ninja with a laser cannon. A turkey stuffed with tropical fruits, including mangoes and papayas, brined in seraphim sweat, grilled over logs from trees sacred to dryads. (Do not try this at home; we are professional mythologizers.) Sage chutney for the turkey, mint jam, and soupçons of the leather from Hank Aaron’s 715th home run. (The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, blind to so many things, hasn’t missed those tiny tidbits of history.) The mouth is neither tight nor open; it straddles perfectly the Aristotelian golden mean: It opens precisely as it should, at exactly the right moment, for only the right reasons.
The finish is superlatively smooth and rich, water flowing downstream through a Japanese garden, each little burble and pop meticulously crafted by carefully placed rocks. I would travel overseas to buy this at a duty-free shop, then head home, mission accomplished. Salivating joyously, I wait for the gates of Heaven to open—and I’m a prognostic!
[John: Stephen, is it worth correcting him?]
[Stephen: No, it never is.]
The Highland Park Ragnvald is the Rocky Mountain High–It’s a good match for Ragnvald, the “Mountain-High” son of Olaf, and the experience of being high in the Rockies—by which I mean high-up in the oxygen-depleted altitudes, or really, just the feeling of running naked through aspen groves, alpine meadows along crystal clear brooks—I’ll never be 20 again, but thinking of Rocky Mountain Highs, drinking the Ragnvald—maybe it’s okay being older! I can used to this. Just send me a case or three of the Ragnvald, and I’m off.
–Our thanks to Steph Ridgway and Highland Park for the sample!