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Lagavulin 12 Year Old 15th Release Special Releases 2015

Summertime Sadness

3 1996

@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

21st Mar 2018

0

  • Nose
    24
  • Taste
    24
  • Finish
    24
  • Balance
    24
  • Overall
    96

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

My youngest is home sick today and he's currently engrossed in a Netflix show, so I took an hour to write this review. Oh and wanting to take my time drinking this particular whisky had nothing to do with it. At all.

This Lagavulin 12 Year Old, 2015 Edition 56.8% ABV, was opened May 21/2017, gassed after each pour, 2/3 full when the sample was poured on Nov 5, 2017. Many thanks to @Nozinan for the sample.

Anyone who has read a word I've written knows about my unabashed and wholly biased love for Lagavulin (and to a slightly lesser degree, Laphroaig and Ardbeg). If you're wondering about the "sadness" part of the title, it's just a reference to the sadness I feel knowing that I don't have an unlimited amount of this whisky. The nose, in particular, awoke a feeling of nostalgia for the few times I've been by the ocean in the summer. It reminded me of my honeymoon, which was spent in Mexico. In June. On the Pacific coast.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose (undiluted): brighter than Lagavulin 16, rich vegetal peat and smoke (obviously), with some citrus notes, pear and cereal sweetness. Think of smoking a cigar on a patio in the summertime. Others are having fruity drinks, but you, Lagavulin drinker, are not. The bright, fruity notes are there, green apples, lemons, pears, but they don't dominate in any way.

  • Palate (undiluted): rich, full-bodied, yet there's a gentle arrival, developing to fiery black pepper, oak spices, burning leaves, a minerality reminiscent of an ocean breeze (really!), damp, earthy brine-soaked peat and seaweed.

  • Finish: very long, vegetal (moss, dry leaves), cigar ash, more black pepper, black licorice, some green fruits (very ripe pears perhaps?) and an oak/barrel sweetness appears well after the other flavours have dissipated.

Adding water turns up the volume on the citrus notes and the brine on the nose. It's like charring lemons on an ocean-front beach. Cliché and repetitive? Perhaps, but it's there in spades. After it rests a few minutes, the sweetness returns to the nose, but it's no longer cereal sweetness; it's more like a salted caramel. Water doesn't tone down the pepper or barrel notes, but the mouthfeel becomes oilier with water. There's probably a scientific explanation for this, but I don't know what it is. Probably because, uhm, molecules. Yeah ! Science ! With water, the finish becomes more medicinal, with menthol becoming more prominent, but in a very good way. If you love Lagavulin, like I do, you know what I mean. This whisky is wonderful either way, but I think I prefer it neat. In a funny way, this reminds me more of Laphroaig 10 than Lagavulin 16. Perhaps it's the fact that this Lagavulin is matured exclusively in ex-bourbon barrels, like Laphroaig 10, as opposed to the combined ex-bourbon and ex-sherry of Lagavulin 16. Either way, this is a phenomenal whisky. It's hard to find any fault with it whatsoever. But I'm a teacher, so I can't give anything a perfect score. This is probably the closest I've experienced to perfection, especially on the nose.

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19 comments

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

High praise! I don't have access to the 2015, but I think I've still got two big sample bottles of the 2014 stashed away. I'll be sure to dash in some water when I come back to them.

@OdysseusUnbound, you a Lana Del Rey fan?

8 months ago 1Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@MadSingleMalt Not especially, but my wife likes that stuff. I’m more like Grampa Simpson:

I used to be with it. Then they changed what “it” was. Now what I’m with isn’t it and what is “it” seems weird and scary to me.

8 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@MadSingleMalt the 2015 is WAYYYYY better (in my opinion) than the 2014.

8 months ago 1Who liked this?

Wierdo commented

Excellent review. I've got a bottle of this open at the moment but I'm less than 1/4 of the way into. You score it higher than I would have but I'd still probably have it around the 90 points mark.

I haven't met a Lagavulin 12 I didn't like yet. Imo it's the gem of the Lagavulin line up. Just wish it wasn't so damned expensive.

Nearly £90 in the UK. That's a lot for a 12 year old even at cask strength. It's gone up about £30 in a couple of years.

8 months ago 2Who liked this?

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Wierdo I always like to mention my bias when it comes to peated Islay whiskies, especially with Lagavulin. Most of our sensory experiences are subject to personal and emotional biases, but it's even more pronounced with Lagavulin in my case. The 2017 version of this whisky is apparently quite good as well, but I couldn't find one. I had my local LCBO try and track one down for me, but with no success.

8 months ago 1Who liked this?

Wierdo commented

@OdysseusUnbound I can understand your love for Lagavulin. I share it. The 16 was my first ever single malt and so holds a special place for me. I can't help but think though that their current output isn't the same quality it used to be with the exception of the 12 that is. I've had the 2009, the 2012 and now the 2015 and they've all been stellar.

Can you not buy from European distributors in Canada? Do import costs make it too expensive? The 2017 12yo is still available from all the online retailers I use like master of malt and the whisky exchange.

8 months ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@paddockjudge I don't think it's all tax. That does not explain the $100 difference between Uigeadail in Ontario and Alberta ( Ontario being more expensive) and the $20 difference in A'Bunadh (Alberta being pricier).

8 months ago 0

@OdysseusUnbound
OdysseusUnbound commented

@Wierdo Buying from European websites, if done legally (and I’m not 100% sure it can be done) would require an absurd amount of hoop-jumping and the Ontario government would undoubtedly charge me 2 times the price of the actual whisky in excise.

8 months ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@OdysseusUnbound Not legal - you cannot mail order liquor into Canada.

There are places that offer addresses in cities bordering Canada and some people have it shipped there then take a trip to get it. But you have to declare it and the cost, I am told, is about 100% of the value of the bottle.

8 months ago 0

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@OdysseusUnbound, there is still a good amount of the 2017 edition of Lag 12 at the SAQ, if you are still pursuing a bottle, it would be a pleasure to help out.

8 months ago 1Who liked this?

Jonathan commented

I share your enthusiasm for Lagavulin (the 12, the DE,the 8, and even the 16). BUT--even as prices on the 16 have come down, I've been reluctant to buy it recently because of the batch variation that friends have reported. I guess I'm one of the few on here who really like the 8 when I can't afford or find the 12.

8 months ago 0

@MadSingleMalt
MadSingleMalt commented

@Jonathan, from what I can tell, most Lagavulin fans are split between whether they prefer the 8 or the 16.

I'm firmly in the 16 camp myself—not because I love the 16, but because I think the 8 isn't ready for prime time. (For my money, Ardbeg Ten does what Lagavulin 8 is trying to do, but with much better results and for much less money.) But as I say, the Lag 8 has plenty of fans.

It does seem almost universal, though, that devotees of the 8 like the 12 even better. And I'm totally on board with that!

8 months ago 2Who liked this?

Wierdo commented

Well that sucks for you guys in Canada then. I should probably stop complaining about the price of scotch seeing what you have to go through to get your fix!

8 months ago 1Who liked this?

@fiddich1980
fiddich1980 commented

@cricklewood @OdysseusUnbound as a general observations on Lagavulin 12 availability in Ontario and Quebec: for some unknown reason, I've only ever seen the even 12,14,16 releases available in Ontario. Where as the odd 13,15,17 releases avaiable only in Quebec.

8 months ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@fiddich1980 I bought the 2015 release at the LCBO

8 months ago 1Who liked this?

@cricklewood
cricklewood commented

@fiddich1980 for the SAQ I know they consistently received the 12 the last few years (2014) onwards. The only different is that they used to sell out rather quickly. I believe they order more than they did but I don't think the insane increase in price helps either.

8 months ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@Nozinan, I was referring to the import tax when ordering into Ontario by a private citizen. The tax is determined by where entry and landing is made, or held in bond. Unaccompanied whisky is an almost 200% tax in Ontario whereas "accompanied" imports are approximately 100% taxable....seldom worth the trouble.

8 months ago 0

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