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Lagavulin distillery was founded by John Johnston on the South shore of Islay in 1816, one year after Ardbeg distillery had been established. In 1825 Johnston acquired the nearby Ardmore distillery, and in 1837 the two distilleries were merged under the name Lagavulin by Donald Johnston. In 1852 the distillery was taken over by John Crawford Graham and passed on to James Logan Mackie & Co. in 1867. In 1878 James Logan Mackie employed his nephew Peter Mackie who took over the management and ownership of Lagavulin in 1889 and who is famous for launching the White Horse blend – of which Lagavulin single malt whisky is an important component – just one year later. The distillery went through a difficult time in the 1980s and for most of the decade only operated two days a week. Production was increased again in 1991, and today Lagavulin is one of the most beloved Islay single malts. This 12-year old was launched as one of Diageo’s special releases in 2012. It was matured in ex-Bourbon casks and bottled at 56.1%.
The nose is slightly phenolic and fruity. Light smoke is followed by lemons and hints of vanilla. I also detected brine and salt but again these were just so light and delicate.
The palate is full-bodied and peppery. Both the smoke and the lemons are much more prominent than on the nose but have now been beautifully interwoven. Burnt vegetables give the palate an additional twist. Big and mouth watering!
The finish is long and warming. Smoke is accompanied by tannic notes and again lemons and brine.
I was blown away by this 12-year old Lagavulin! A wonderfully delicate nose, followed by a mighty palate and then a satisfyingly long finish. This is what everybody is looking for in a peated whisky!