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In my experience I have found HP to have an awful lot of batch variance in their releases, particularly their standard 12YO. Sometimes it's a rich smokey experience, other times I've found it rather bland. The 18YO is generally excellent, (although I've had some samples of that which were not as great as they should have been) and have also been fortunate enough to try the 21YO. But I've also had a very forgettable Indie Bottle recently, (so forgettable I've forgotten who bottled it).
So given the mixed experiences I've had with Highland Park, and my general skepticism towards NAS releases I was in two minds about whether to go for this one.
On the nose I get strong honey and smoke. It's definitely at the far smokey end of HP's general profile. Quite rich, but there is a hint of sharp fruit cutting through. Stewed dates and a bit of fruit pudding. Treacle, which becomes more pronounced as it opens up. Everything stays wrapped in a pleasant smokiness.
Palate: Intense treacle and honey with lots of smoke. Liquorice and Fennel notes. Some black cooked fruit is there - not so much at first but becomes prominent after a bit of time in the glass.
A fairly short-medium finish of rich treacle and smoke, becoming slightly bitter.
Like many, I am not keen on the trend to NAS whiskies but that does not mean they are all bad. This could almost be HP's answer to Ardbeg Uigedail, (well if it was Cask Strength). It is a very nice dram - at the rich smokey end of Highland Park's profile which is just the style I like.