Show rating data charts
Distribution of ratings for this:
Color: remarkably light, almost as if the sun sneezed on a glass of water.
Nose: without water, alcohol burn and a little smoke. Water mellows it out a bit and brings out the maple-smoked barbecue notes familiar to fans of the 16-year. Pretty light though.
Palate: without water, there's no point. Almost like drinking moonshine (with a little wood-charred sweetness in the background). Enough water mellows the burn but it is hard not to lose the distinctive flavors in the process. This is a real balancing act. I pick up many of the same flavors as can be found in the 16-year, but they're wispier, just out of reach.
Finish: long, warm, and still a little harsh. The smokiness is nice, but the sweetness pales in comparison to the 16-year.
In hindsight, I really don't know what I was thinking. This was $10 more expensive than the 16-year (currently my highest-rated whisky), and far less satisfying. Lagavulin just doesn't make sense at cask strength. It is too subtle and nuanced. Likewise, the 12-year just doesn't have the same balance. I could see buying something like this again if it were offered as a kind of entry-level Lagavulin, but this was just sort of silly. Why pay more just to have the flavor buried beneath alcohol? A big disappointment.