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Lagavulin 12 Year Old 15th Release Special Releases 2015

Average score from 2 reviews and 3 ratings 94

Lagavulin 12 Year Old 15th Release Special Releases 2015

Product details

  • Brand: Lagavulin
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 56.8%
  • Age: 12 year old
  • Bottled: 2015

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Lagavulin 12 Year Old 15th Release Special Releases 2015

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.

@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.

@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!


I just cracked open the recent acquired Lagavulin 12 (2015 release) and compared it to the same series 2011 and 2012 version that I have in cabinet. I am happy to say that the 2015 release holds the 12-yr series tradition extremely well, in some way restored the “big Islay, bold flavour, with undisputed balance” found in 2011 bottling (many reported similar quality in 2009 & 2010 release as well).

Nose: Peat, sea salt, grassy & citrus, hint of oily (yes i can nose it too), slight toasty malt, earthy tone of herbal aurora, thin vapour with gentle sweetness, smoke coated fish. Peat again, it’s the kind of peat with very high quality (no rough edge) throughout the nose profile. Gosh I can sniff it for long long time.

Taste: the transition from nose to palate is extremely well. Not single "bad surprise” but rather amplified the profile with more horizontal explosion. The Lagavulin signature is all here and alive with notable iodine join the tasting party. Also there is more than generous “mouth feel” (wet & well coated) to enhance the tasting experience. Think of it as internal fireworks explosion, only with well controlled structure and precision. Something reminds me the discipline of well-balanced regular 16 years old, only with more intensity and more firepower.

Finish: The 2011 release has the signature “unnaturally long" finish, the later release (sweater and bit smoother) all seems to lack of that magical lingering power, NO MORE, this time it finally restored the old mighty finishing power! It lingers just as long as 2011 but feel completely natural, smooth and easy.

Overal: Lagavulin 12 is the kind of heavy weight whisky ranked right up there with the very best from neighbouring distillers Ardbeg or Laphroaig. This version has the refinement of Ardbeg Corryveckan, the power and complexity of Uigeadail, and clear discipline of Lagavulin.

There have only been two whiskies that have sent a chill up my spine and sent me into nirvana. The 2011 Lagavulin 12 was one, and probably the best I've ever tasted. The 2012 was a letdown, although good, and the 2013 and 2014 have improved nearly to that 2011 dram. After all the reviews I've seen, I'll have to pick up the 2015, even though the prices have jumped nearly 50% in the past year. Even a "bad" Lagavulin 12 beats all the competition!

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