Oops, this is "else"... It matured in a quite exhausted cask so this dram was not able to develop the flabbergasting profile most old Highland Park malts own, because of the limited support by the wood. This thesis is supported by the almost completely absence of any sherry-induced aromas and flavours which is very unusual for a 28-years long maturation in a butt. Maybe this is why they stated a butt only, and not a "sherry butt".
[June, 2021] I re-tasted this dram tonight and fully confirm my old score and review. Nothing else to say.
The colour is yellow gold and the nose offers a rather shy profile first just as if the cask was quite exhausted. But after some oxidation the aromas develop nicely and offer a distillate-driven profile with firm but not dominating wooden notes. Still this nose is not very impressive, it is the typical profile of a leached cask - I am sure now. Even the powerful Highland Park distillate can not compensate a weak cask (I had this with the equally bold Ben Nevis malt before, too). Hey Cadenhead, why did you not finish this dram as you did with so many other casks before? Still this nose is not bad, but it is not great either - sorry, folks.
The taste is better with some nice layers to discover but compared to other old Highland Park releases this is of a somewhat limited complexity. Still this is great compared to most other drams but given the price point I expect a little more, to be honest. It offers the trademark HP heather honey and (Island) peaty flavours in an appropriate wooden setting without any flaws or off-notes and in good balance - but it tastes much younger than it actually is (in a blind setting I would have guessed a max. 15 years old).
The initial mouthfeel is warming and instantly coats all parts of my mouth with a nice creamy texture without distracting moments. The finish is medium to long and adds more spicy wooden impressions and a tasty caramel note. Water does not really release a lot of additional aromas in the nose but this was expected from an exhausted cask maturation (if nothing is in there - nothing can be released). The taste turns smoother but again there are no new impressions upon reduction even after a bigger splash. I like to explore this dram neat and enjoy to drink it both neat and somewhat reduced.