Still slogging through my bottle of HP 12 without much change in opinion, but I've discovered through a few drams at the bar that I really like Laphroaig 10. For me, the heavy peat flavor / smell is much more complex, layered and rewarding than what I see as almost overpoweringly heavy smoke in the Highland Park 12. I'm starting to think my scotch starter-kit should contain a big Islay like Laphroaig 10 (or Ardbeg 10) + a nice smooth Speyside.
To that end, I really like the Macallan 12 sherry but would be grateful to hear recommendations on similar flavor profiles. The Balvenie Doublewood seems to be pretty universally liked; would it or any others make sense? Thanks.