Highland Park - an excellent distillery, with a somewhat misleading name. It's actually not in the Highlands at all, but rather on the islands of Orkney. This makes it the Northernmost distillery in Scotland, as well as one of the few that malts its own barley. They produce a wide range of single malt expressions; this one is their youngest, the 12-year.
This scotch is a yellow-brown, and medium in color. The aroma is complex - peaty and sweet, with strong notes of apple and a bit of sherry. The flavor is intense. It's very peaty, but it's not a smoke bomb like some of the Islays. And there's a whole lot of other things going on - sherry, heather, malt, fruit, honey, salt. It's all there, though not quite in balance - flavors drift in and out, sometimes mingling nicely, and sometimes not. Still, it's very tasty overall, and the complexity is appreciated.
This expression doesn't reach the excellence of the 18-year, which has most of the same flavors, but balanced exceptionally well. But, it's also much more inexpensive. If you don't mind a challenge, it's an excellent whisky.
Overall Quality: 17/20