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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.