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Highland Park 12 is a favorite of mine. I just love a scotch that can deliver a restrained (i.e. balanced) amount of peat. It's not all about the peat, but the peat and smoke is there providing depth.
The nose is very nice. It's mostly fruity and honey sweet, with slight smoke in the background and a definite earthiness. Sometimes I get a banana/vanilla profile which I associate with bourbon-cask maturation. To my knowledge, Highland Park uses no bourbon casks, however some sherry casks do use American oak, so perhaps this is where those aromas come from. Although I love the aroma, the nose is a bit "young," however this does not prevent me from enjoying it.
The palate mostly mirrors the nose: fruity and honey sweetness, earthy-peat, finishing with dry smoke. Awesome! The mouth-puckering dry finish is my favorite part of this whisky, and the gentle smoke hangs around for a while.
If I had to say something negative about this whisky, I'd say it's a tad thin (I like higher ABV stuff generally), and a tad young (which is definitely solved in the 18 year expression). However, I think the youth is entirely excused by the amazing price point of this malt: low $40's puts this in competition with Glenfiddich 12, Glenmorangie 10, etc, and Highland Park shines way above those malts due to the gentle but distinct delivery of peat.
For me, one of the best values to be had in scotch.