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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.
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.