[This is a no age statement (NAS) single malt whisky matured in Sherry seasoned American oak casks. It represents the entry tier of the new travel retail exclusive line from Highland Park we’ve termed “The Animal Parts” line.]
Highland Park’s Spirit of the Bear nose opens with a typical Highland Park wall-to-wall carpeting of beeswax, clean peat technology applied to solar panels, and ambergris encapsulated in amber. What’s that, John? None of those clauses make sense to you? I guess then that’s none of your, beeswax! (Dad jokes, amirite?) There’s also a bit of the lingering synthetic-tire+cobblestone aroma after the Tour de France’s peloton goes whizzing past. On the whole, it’s judicious, like a clerk magistrate declining, at the last, to penalize you for driving 2km over the speed limit.
The mouth is jagged like a maple leaf edge, or maybe pine needles, but definitely not the nail bed of a yogi ascetic. It’s got a wholesome and organic base, some smoke and peat on the top that’s thick enough that it comprises a kid’s saw that cuts only fog and illusion. One wants to claim that a burnt bourbon cask is a major influence on this drink, but one, like a clerk magistrate, should be judicious. Instead one notes that although there is a punchy aspect to the mouth, and it’s got a pugilist’s face, it’s not a menace to society and speaks instead in Mike Tyson’s surprisingly, surpassingly soft voice.
The finish is reminiscent of a pancake fried in a cast iron skillet that’s just barely on the right side of being burnt. It was heated over the embers of what had been thought to be a well-doused campfire (to be specific, the fire was doused with water from a stream, not a well, in case you wondering). There’s smoke and ash and the promise of heat and warmth to come. And just barely not-burnt pancakes.
On the scale of great songs centered around horrible puns–
The Highland Park Spirit of the Bear Travel Retail Exclusive is the Jungle Book’s Bear Necessities, sung by Baloo–Sure, this might be a category with very few entries, but I’m okay judging the Spirit of the Bear to be sui generis. It is indisputably a Highland Park malt, yet it is willing to travel off in a new direction.
–Our thanks to Highland Park for the sample!