Another dram of Highland Park 12. It's still really, really good. I got more smoke last night than previously, although it blew off after a while to reveal it at its honeyed, malty best. There is a fair amount of peat here, but it's a different kind of peat from, say, Laphroaig. Laphroaig isn't just smoky: it's also salty. I think that I compared it to alcoholic beef jerky. Highland Park doesn't have the brine, just the smoke.
Spec's in Houston has Highland Park at around $33 a fifth, which seems to make it the outlier nationally. The two big online liquor superstores (Sam's and Binny's, both of which have a physical presence in the Chicagoland area) have it at $43 a fifth, and they typically beat Spec's on price. I have no idea why Spec's price is so out of line (in a good way), but I plan to take advantage of it fully. I also plan to take full advantage of the wacky good price that Spec's has on the 15 year old version of Highland Park, which runs around $49 a fifth. This is supposedly is very different from either the 12 year old or the 18 year old: whereas those whiskies are predominantly aged in ex-sherry casks, the 15 year old is aged in a 50-50 split of ex-Bourbon barrels and ex-sherry casks, making for a lighter, more vanilla- and citrus-influenced spirit. Supposedly. Which is why I need to try it.