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Lagavulin 12 Year Old bottled 2014 14th Release

One Trick Peony

1 687

@CunundrumReview by @Cunundrum

3rd Aug 2015


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Some esteemed reviewers prefer the 2014 over the 2013.

Me? I'm the opposite. I value smoothness and sophistication over bombast.

Nose: pipe tobacco, wet lime stones, baked buttermilk biscuits (not cookies you English), apple core, coffee beans.

Mouth: Dragon's breath, a driftwood fire, hot sand, smoldering peat, ground coffee beans, peppermint oil, peonies, stale toffee, marzipan, lemon peel. No, I do not taste the "plastic" that some critics seem to feel is in this year's 12. I think that so-called "plastic" is more akin to a slight floral evanescence that I describe as "peony," although it might as well be a slightly rotting magnolia blossom as they tend to fall on suburban California sidewalks in late April and early May.

Finish: This is where last year's (2013 bottled) offering excels, although it is better than 2012's. The length of finish on this year's cask strength 12 seems a bit underwhelming, especially when compared with a Smoking Islay I still have in my cabinet that lingers upon the tongue for up to five minutes per sip.

Yes, the cask strength Blackadder beats the Lag 12 in this case. Yes, the 12 is hot on the tongue, bitter on the buds, and yet it doesn't really linger all that long once its pale fire water trickles down the hollow of your neck.

I also liked Lag's DE from last year better. In fact, last year's DE was even more of a contrast than the 12, but for similar reasons (complexity and smoothness, which I will always take over sheer power).

All of this said, I think the 12 in 2014 is not bad, if it can be had for less than $120. Over that, Cunundrum says "Save Moloch's moolah."

Frankly, I'm waiting with baited palate for next year's DE as well as next year's 12. If you can still find the 2013 of either, 'tis to be had than 2014's offerings.

As for Nick Offerman's lofty praise for Lagavulin because it is so "manly," I must say that my good friend who is female, nearly 60, and weighs about ninety pounds has been drinking Lagavulin at cask strength longer than Offerman's rather overzealous and overdone attempt at being manly. No matter how many times he poses in his woodshop, pops a forkful of steak into his bearded pie hole, or cavalierly sips a tumbler of Lag, he is still "protesting too much" to be entirely hetero.

And I only mention that because the media is so determined to make Offerman a role model for post 20th century American machismo, albeit a tongue in cheek one, which not only pokes fun at real man, but also passive-aggressively emasculates them.

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Cunundrum commented

Actually, I got the waning (decaying) floral presence backwards: it's in the nose, not on the palate. Sorry about that

7 years ago 0

Taco commented

Although I like the 2014 better, I have not had a bad Laga 12 yet. The consistency is quite good, especially when compared to the 16, which seems to be all over the map. Even with the recent 25% price hike,it is still worth buying. I can't say the same for Macallan and HP with their 50%+ hikes over the past two years. Those guys have lost me for sure as a customer, as I'll just buy GlenDronach 15/18 or Talisker as their replacements in my cabinet.

7 years ago 0

Cunundrum commented

Good points all, Taco. Yes, the Lag 12 is quite tasty. I wish the 16 was a bit more oily like the 12. The nose on the 16 blows me away but the mouth is not quite up to my liking even though it was quite good, but then again I am spoiled from indie bottlings etc.

For an OB the 12 is good even though Lag calls it a "special" bottling or something like that. I call it OB because it comes out every year and as you say is fairly consistent. If I lived in a place where I could not lay hands on indie and boutique bottlings of Isla stuff, I would clamber for the 12. As I said, I'm spoiled.

Yes, the 12 is consistent but it does vary from year to year. I have not tasted it earlier than the 2012, but Serge's ratings on whiskyfun do vary when one goes back in time before that. I think his point spread is at least four if not five points difference between some years. And call me crazy but when an OB bottles so many bottles, it can vary a little between bottles.

I might have gotten a really good 2013 bottle. I really loved that 12 2013. It was sooooo good. As for 2014, I only tasted a friend's sample and not sure how low her level was on the bottle. I think she opened it fairly recently but she brought it with her in a sample bottle when last she visited me, and I didn't ask her.

I am set right now and with the price up I'm happy with my Peat Reek and a few other bottles that are "on tap" in my cabinet. No need to spend the extra dough on the 2014 because I was not all that impressed and the 2015 will be out soon enough. And if the 2015 is not as good as the 2014, oh well.

I couldn't agree more with your assessment of HP although the prices have only gone up about $12 where I live, not half again more. The HP 18 used to be my nobrainer go to dram, but not any longer. I think the European releases of HP are better than what we get in North America. I the Scandinavians get really good stuff from HP because I think HP has a soft spot for Denmark, Sweden and even Norway when compared with North America. And of course the Germans and the Benelux countries always manage to secure excellent HP's from what I have read on Whiskybase. That is certainly true of Springbanks.

7 years ago 0

Ol_Jas commented

So I had to look up who this Nick Offerman is. Not who I expected. I was expecting (and let's admit it, hoping) that it'd be this guy based on your slam:


...Because it would be kinda awesome to see that guy getting slammed for no reason in a whisky review.

7 years ago 0

Ol_Jas commented

Well, it turns out URLs don't become links in these review comments. If anyone wants to bypass my ridiculously long URL paste, the guy I'm talking about turns out to be Roy Underhill.

7 years ago 0

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