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First vapor: Buttery cinnamon over deep orange.
Nose: Overall light. A slow breath: old sneakers, dark honey, salty nectarine. A faster inhale reveals levity: vanilla and macadamia, maybe a just-used pencil eraser.
Palate: Sour cream entrance...then becomes syrupy-sweet, and like an organic mouthful of earth and flower petals. This may seem rubbery, and it is woody more than grassy. Orange peel slips in, just before the finish...
Finish: Salty wood chips, with a remaining impression of syrup (so it is not too bitter). Some of the wood chips might have been lightly charred-- very subtle tar.
I feel surprisingly warmer to this one than I did to the 18yo (see my recent review). The 18yo did have a tad more complexity, but I also found significant drawbacks. The 12yo is straightforward and was somehow smoother, perhaps due to less sourness. Nevertheless, I wish both had more defining characteristics that would step up and make bolder statements. The HP12's first aroma is enticing... but read those palate descriptors again... It's okay, but there are plenty more interesting and enjoyable malts to explore.
To compare with other "reasonably close" Scotches, I think this is a step up from Isle of Jura's Superstition, and not quite on par with Bowmore's 12yo expression. My lasting impression is of a balanced dram with a couple interesting sensations (honey, rubber, earthy), although with no particularly striking characteristic.