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The flagship of Highland Park, the distillery on Orkney, is undoubtedly their 12 Year Old. We are tasting it from a dumpy bottle from the beginning of the century (2003 or 2004).
The nose is triple F: fresh, fruity and pretty floral, with honey, oranges but formost a bouquet of wilde flowers. Think dandelions in a field. Also some malt and heather. The island character takes a while to reveal itself, but after a few moments woodsmoke a whiff of Orkney peat pops out. All of this is very soft and gentle, though.
It is very light on the palate. A bit too light to my taste. Meager body and that is a pity. Soft and very sweet on honey, a load of citrus, but little else. Turns a tad too bitter too soon. Light on smoke.
In the medium long, warming finish, the peat finally florishes.
This is all very gently, but then it is their entry level malt. A classic with a great nose. Today, this bottling will easily set you back around 75 to 100 EUR. Phew!