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Lagavulin 12 Year Old bottled 2013 13th Release

Average score from 6 reviews and 6 ratings 90

Lagavulin 12 Year Old bottled 2013 13th Release

Product details

  • Brand: Lagavulin
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 55.1%
  • Age: 12 year old

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Lagavulin 12 Year Old bottled 2013 13th Release

Lagavulin 12 is a very popular Scotch on this site. Sadly, it’s also a very expensive one. Of the only 2 bottles I’ve ever owned, the 2010 was the last bottle in London (sold out in Toronto) and my friend refused to let me pay for it, and the 2015 was purchased for $3.50 after trading in a bottle of Fiddich 18 I was gifted by an in-law (he bought it cheaper in Calgary than I was credited for here…).

I’ve also been lucky enough to have friends with bottles and have been able to taste the 2011 which was excellent, and the 2014 which is the least exciting of the three I’ve tasted so far. Tonight I am cracking the sample I was given (well, allowed to pour is more accurate) by @Robert99 who very generously brought it all the way from Montréal. Merci beaucoup, mon ami.

This expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting. I am comparing this to the 2015 edition reviewed here:


Nose: 22/25

Smokey . A little mentholated citrus, the smell from a fresh tire skid. This is a dense nose. A peat lover’s nose. With water the nose is more syrupy. (22.5/25)

The 2013 has a slightly sweeter syrupy nose, and I get a hint of an over-ripe fruit.

Taste: 22.5/25

Is WOW! a flavour? First sip is sweet, lemony, and full of peat, ash and smoke. Later on it becomes quite spirity on the arrival. But that first sip… oh my. Water helps it become more rounded and less spirity. (23/25)

The 2015 is a little more subdued on the arrival with a very rich development. It’s sweeter, with some pepper.

Finish: 22/25

Ashy, very astringent, peppery. Long. Slightly smoother with water.

Balance: 22.5/25

This is a peat monster, but it has depth, and the nose and palate complement each other. A little easier to drink and richer with a few drops of water. (23/25)

Score: Neat - 89 /100 With Water: 90.5/100

If you like peat, you will really like this one. Head to head I think I like the 2015 just a little more. I think it has a slight edge on complexity. This one seems to have more raw peat power.

A combination of the remaining 2013 and 2013 is successful.

Thanks again @Robert99!

@MadSingleMalt I think my comment was that I would not be purchasing any expensive whiskies at the prices ( $150+) charged by the LCBO unless I was trading something I had received as a gift.

Now, I do believe there was a time when you could get refunds for stuff without a receipt and people were buying cheap out of province and "returning" for cash at the KGBO, but that was before my time and I never got to benefit from that racket.

@Nozinan, I returned a bottle of the 2014. I did not know where it came from, it was a gift. With the proceeds from the credit transaction I purchased a 3 liter bottle of ...............Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey.


Much like Ardbeg and Laphroaig, Lagavulin is one of those distilleries that has the ability to turn grown men into fanboys. Unlike the latter examples, it does so by releasing very few whiskys and with little fanfare.

Don't get me wrong I don't think Diageo has any trouble with their marketing budget, yet I have to admit that the austere range of Lagavulin resonates with my personal aesthetic.

I first tasted this as the second to last whisky in a line-up of heavy hitters (Bunnahabhain Toiteach, Ardbeg Corry, Bowmore Tempest, Amrut peated CS) so singular was it's delivery, I instantly knew I needed some of this in my life. Much thanks again to @robert99.

Nose: Smoked fudge (this should totally be a thing), burnt chaff, butter, hot tarmac, a slight touch of vanilla. A feeling of Vicks vaporub and alpine liqueurs/bitters, earthy and mineral.

Palate: Sooty, a coal fire, bitter herbs and plants (cardoons?) there is also  little sweetness, It reminds me of mezcal in some ways, fresh almonds and grapefruit pith, salty and a slight creaminess.

Finish is long, all on puer eh tea (that earthy, vegetal side), light tobacco smoke, fading sweetness and lingering oiliness. It's so balanced and most quaffable undiluted.

A good reference when one wants to discuss distillery character or quality of distillateur. There are similarities with other Islay whisky but there is this elemental qualities in Lagavulin that are hard to find elsewhere and there doesn't seem to be so much wood doing the heavy lifting.


@cricklewood come to Toronto, there is lots of Amrut Peated CS (assuming it survives the move)

@cricklewood The Ashok Manoeuvre or its modified form (using computer fan) seems to work best with Amrut. not surprising, as Ashok was (is?) the brand ambassador. It in't as useful for others, though I try it with some CS peated malts on occasion.


The reviewed sample was provided thanks to @Robert99. Thank you, Robert!

Colour: very pale

Nose: moderate to moderately strong intensity. There is plenty of brine, acrid smoke, bitter peat, sweet peat, a little citrus, and a bit of malt. Nicely balanced and very enjoyable. The longer I spend with this nose the more I like it. Water added sweetens the nose, bundles the flavours and mellows them. This nose is very good with water, also. Score: 23/25

Taste: very strong flavours. There is very heavy peat and smoke in the mouth, but the quality of the peat is a little rough, overwhelmingly bitter, and not attractive in the way that the nose is. The brine and citrus are still there. The malt is almost invisible. A little sweetness develops mid-palate, thank God, to partially balance all of the bitterness. Still, this is skewed heavily toward the bitter. Water added generally reduces the intensity of all of the flavours. Score: 21/25

Finish: very long and very strong. I like these bitter flavours better as they slowly tone down throughout the long finish, than I like them on the palatal delivery. Water added sweetens and tones down the finish, bringing out black licorice. I like the finish better without water. Score: 21.5/25

Balance: there is too much bitterness in the peat, and the sweet balance to this is lacking, except in the nose. Score: 21/25

Total Sequential Score: 86.5 points

Strength: moderate in the nose; very strong thereafter. Score: 24/25

Quality: the malt's ok; same for the brine and citrus. The peat is very bitter here, and a little rough. Score: 21.5/25

Variety: very adequate variety throughout, but the bitter peat crowds out the other flavours on the palate. Score: 21.5/25 points

Harmony: excellent in the nose, fair on the palate, good on the finish. Score: 20.5/25

Total Non-Sequential Score: 87.5 points

Comment: This is one of the very rare very heavily peated cask strength whiskies which I've tried in which I felt that the peat and smoke didn't work very well. Despite that, I still enjoy this whisky. The flavours are good to very good, and the intensity of the flavours is laudably high. As distillery bottled Lagavulin 12 Year Old releases go, I like the 2013 release less than the Lagavulin 12 Year Old releases from 2010 and 2012. The 2012 Lagavulin 12 has much lighter flavours, but they are much more balanced. The 2010 release is better in almost every respect

Still, there is much to enjoy with Lagavulin 12 Year Old 2013 Release when you are in that Max-Peat mood

@Misty, you never can completely eliminate variability unless you are drinking from the same bottle on the same day. This is especially true of heavily peated whiskies. I can tell you that I have sampled from different bottles of the "same" whisky bottled on the same day which were significantly different from one another.

So, I don't doubt you a bit that you had some 2013 Lagavulin 12 YO which was a lot different from what I reviewed here. It does happen. It is entirely possible that @Robert99's bottle came from the very end of the run, and got a more concentrated peat influence than did many others from earlier in the bottling run.

@Pierre_W, the 2012 release took a lot of grief for being underpowered compared to other releases of Lagavulin 12. Actually I think that a vatting of the 2012 and 2013 would produce a very interesting result. I'd try it out if I had the bottles handy.


First, this is my first Lagavulin 12 yo so I can't compare it to the 2010 or any other that some of you were so found of. But One thing is for sure, the power is there but tame at the same time which is for me the Lagavulin way and Lovers of the 16 yo will understand me. Yes, everything is integrated and well balance. That is for a cask strenght! But let start now.

Nose: I just opened the bottle so, of course, I put my nose over it and it is wonderfull. There is smoke almost like Ardbeg Ten and then some meaty peat like Laphroaig QC but lighter. I pour my dram and the smoke and meat are way back for a little disappointment. Instead I found a lot of green hay, salt and brine with some tangy citrus and something else that I don't get yet. What I get, though, is the reference to Bruichladdich that Victor used for the 2010. Those herbs with the salt are Bruichladdichian if I may say so. But there is no funky sour herbs like ther is a lot in Springbank in a hint in Bruichladdich. There is also a growing vanilla put well integrated with that thing that puzzles me.

Palate: The palate brings the peat back both with the smoke and the meat. So it follows more the nose of the bottle than the nose of the glass. It is very sweet but a nice counterpoint to the increasing citrus that you get with air. And suddenlly I get it! I don't know how they are doing it as the mouth is not thin but not that oily either; but I found pure butter in this scotch! I know the vanilla is part of this impression but that is not the butter that you will find in Speysider with honey and Vanilla ice cream! No! It is simple butter at room temperature. It is as if somebody, to calm the alcohol, would have put a stick of cool butter in my scotch! As I was saying, it is not that oily, so don't be afraid. But it is a tamer of the power.

Finish: The finish is not strong but has a good lenght. As a Lagavulin it has good balance. Very good one! Those who are looking for highlights will be disappointed, but those who will focus on the butter will appreciate this scotch.

Conclusion: If you are looking for pure power that may not be the one for you. I may now have to resort to an oxymoron to explain this dram so let me go for it. Those of you that are lookink for SOFT power will like it. For me the disappointment comes on the empty glass who follows the nose of the glass with the green hay and the citrus with almost no smoke and just some vanilla without butter. But I really enjoy the palate for its uniqueness.

Now, do I rate it with the nose of the bottle or of the glass. I will go with the bottle to be kind and because that is the one that stays in my memory so it would be hard to do a good accessment of the nose of the glass.

@Robert99 I just want to add that this one has grown on me in the last year. I would certainly rate it over 90 now..

I never got to try the 2013. i'f you're coming to Toronto maybe you'd like to compare it to the 2015?


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 2013. It was matured in refill Bourbon casks and bottled at 55.1%.

The nose is malty, milky, and richly phenolic. Light smoke is accompanied by lemons, brine and very light vanilla flavours. In addition, there are some salty and grassy notes.

The palate is full-bodied, peppery and dry. Lemon and grassy flavours are now quite distinct, together with rich smoke, white pepper and seaweed.

The finish is long, smoky and warming. Smoke is accompanied by wood spiciness, lemons and brine.

Another great edition of a 12-year old Lagavulin, although the palate was a tad too dry for my taste. This one is just one notch below my favourite, the 2012 release.


Lagavulin 12 year old cask strength special release 2013. We did this parallel to the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 additions.

I will keep this short. It’s absolutely phenomenal. I mean truly. All of the various years are good but nothing comes near to the 2013. I’m totally with Serge from Whiskyfun with this (and I'm not always aligned with Serge).

As soon as you nose it, you just know it’s going to be great. Sweet vanilla and some kind of spicy fudge develops into the perfect pinpoint Lagavulin smell of peat, tcp (antiseptic), burnt seashells, flint, earth and lovely ginsengginger combination. So big and so good. The taste is stunning, led by the sweetness traveling through all the flavors on the nose and finishing on grapefruit. The grapefruit is really delightful especially as you never get it on the nose (sorry if I spoiled the surprise for anyone). Neat is great (55% abv) and so is a drop of water if required. We had 6 bottles at a small tasting and there wasn’t a drop left at the end of the night. One of the panel who has experience with the famous 37 year old said ‘The 37 is great, but considering I could buy a few bottles of the 2013 for the same price - it’s a no brainer’.

So would I recommend for the price. Totally. Of course it’s pricey for 12 year old, but in this case you get what you pay for (which sadly is not always the case).

Do you feel good after a few drams? For sure, we found there is a noticeable light euphoric effect. Puts a light bounce in your step. God it’s good (for both breakfast, lunch and dinner).

I would love to score this even higher than 94, but it is pricey for a 12 year old.

See, this is why I don't get why people equate age with value. This whisky is described as awesome. "Lagavulin perfection"! It's around $95 USD (at least in my area). That's pricey but surely less pricey than many many malts that deliver less. What if it was 25 years old and tasted exactly the same? Would it become a steal at $95?

I think we should consider age to be nothing more than a producer's expense. When it's well aged we can UNDERSTAND why it must be priced higher (because it truly costs more to produce), but I don't think the aging actually makes it worth more unless your enjoyment is enhanced.

The experience of drinking this whisky is awesome. It costs $95. Those are the two prime data points in my mind—and P.S., they aged it 12 years to achieve that effect.

OK, I'm off that. :) Great review. I often consider laying out the big money (for me) on this bottle, and now I feel a little closer to doing so. Thanks Misty!

Sorry if I come across too enthusiastic, but it really is that good if you like this style of whisky. Such pinpoint sweet coastal peat perfection.

Maybe it’s that gentle sweet fudgy entry or that beautiful grapefruit finish. I dunno…

It’s the type of whisky that gives you a lovely sensory memory of the taste. I can still taste it a week later!

I can’t remember the scores for 2011, or the others offhand. They were all good, but 2013 was the obvious winner by at least 5-8 points or so (unanimous panel decision). Actually I think we had 2011 at 89.

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