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Lagavulin 12 Year Old bottled 2014 14th Release

Average score from 4 reviews and 5 ratings 88

Lagavulin 12 Year Old bottled 2014 14th Release

Product details

  • Brand: Lagavulin
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 54.4%
  • Age: 12 year old
  • Bottled: 2014

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Lagavulin 12 Year Old bottled 2014 14th Release

Did you know that until 1987 the Lagavulin 12 was actually their standard bottling? Some thirty years ago the 16 Year Old came in its stead and should be present in every bar. This is truly the quintessential Lagavulin, no doubt. But still the 12 Year Old is released on a yearly basis as Special Release at cask strength. I have tried two of those before, but today I have the pleasure of trying the 2014 release. It was bottled at 54,4% ABV.

Smoky toffee! That is the nose in a nutshell. Creamy, sweet on toffee and vanilla, immediately followed by a grand smokiness of sweet peat, some stable scents and a good pinch of kitchen salt. Young apples kick in. Liquorice. Wet wood. Butane gas. Complex and very outspoken. I love it already.

What a body! On the palate it is nicely balanced between sweet and salt. Butter and toffee on the left of me, brackish sea water on the right, stuck in the middle with lemon juice and a drop of olive oil. Nice smokiness. Some oak and pepper join in. Most lovely indeed.

The finish lingers very long, warm and smoky with again a fierce fight between sweet and salt.

Ah, this Lagavulin has a grand chiseled body. Michelangelo would be jealous.

I think I would probably have given it a similar score. But I would emphasize that in my opinion it is only a shadow of the 2011 version, which I scored a 91.

Any idea on the relative quality of the 2012? I know a shop that still has one 2012 on the shelf for $105, which is high but no higher than the more recent ones.


Here we have last year's 12 Year Old - always a fun dram! Note that this bottle has been open for almost a year:

The colour is an extremely pale yellow. As you can imagine, there is very little oak on the nose; but we have heather, wet campfire, bandages, green apple skins and white pepper. Quite briny, with cereal notes. Maltier with water. The smoke is upfront but is a little acrid with a petrochemical scent. Interesting, and a little challenging.

On the palate this is fruitier than you might think - underripe apples and bananas, lemon juice, pear and orange pith. Rather acidic. More medicinal notes - bandages and antiseptic. Prickly and peaty. I like it but for some reason, I don't love it - needs something to bring it down to earth. Water helps tie it together but still needs some balance.

The finish is mouth drying, full of salt-and-pepper, citrus and more cereal. I remember liking other editions more, but this is totally fine for a peathead like myself. A little goes a long way though - pour yourself a smaller dram than you might otherwise.

@talexander, that's good old Diageo pricing, for you.

I'm always sorry to hear about weaker editions of what should be a stellar whisky. Sounds OK for sure, but way too expensive to chase it down. That's 2 bottles of Laphroaig 10 Cask Strength or 3 bottles of Ardbeg 10 or standard Laphroaig 10, for that price here.

This has been regularly reviewed as one of the strongest 12's since 2009 or 2010. I have the 12, 13, & this 14. I prefer the 14 to the others, it seems like the least rich and fruitiest of the bunch. I think it's reasonably priced at $100 but I've come to realize these big hot peppery whisky's balanced with the acidic lemon citrus are not everyone's thing. Very nice review, I tasted much the same, seems I enjoyed it a little more.


I remember my first Lagavulin and, yes, it was the 16; just like everyone else. Unlike most first-timers who can get dissuaded by the ashy peat and smoke my palate actually cut through that and went to the delicate sweetness that nestled underneath.

It was one of the first whiskies that I had reviewed (quite a cringe-worthy review if you ask me) but at least I knew a good whisky when I saw one. Even back then.

Since then, I am quite happy to report, that I have yet to be disappointed by a Lagavulin. They don't release a million expressions a year, instead, choosing to focus on what they do best.

One of the standard expressions they churn out now is the 12 year old cask strength which they've been releasing every year for the last 13 years. Each edition is a different strength and with minor variances in taste.

What I've done for this particular tasting is, for the very first time, pair a dark chocolate with the whisky and report on the how the palate is influenced.

The 2014 bottling has been vatted from re-fill American Oak from spirit distilled in 2001 and 2002. My sample is from a previously opened bottle (almost full) and served at a cask strength of 54.4%

Nose: Oysters. Sharp lime. Understated ash. Apples. Apricot. Jute bag. Melon rind. White pepper. Gets sootier as you let it breathe. Touch of water will open it up a touch. Becomes slightly sweeter, though, not by much. Becomes drier. Almost cardboard dry. Good nose. And I didn't expect anything less. 23/25

Palate: Chocolate. Lime. Lemon. Pineapple. Salt. White pepper. Very intense. Ash. Smoked barbeque. Quite savory. Touch bitter. With water it's a gentler dram. Less spice. Quite chewy. 22/25

Finish: Long. Oily. Touch of oak. Grass. Almost mentholated. Leaves the mouth numb, though. With water is much nicer with more accentuated flavors. (23/25)

For my chocolate pairing experiment I decided to go with 70% Lindt. A small piece to coat my mouth before tasting the spirit.

Tasting notes with chocolate:

Palate: Very interesting. Creatives a protective coating and cuts the spice. Brings out more fruit. Makes it seem full-bodied. I definitely prefer it after a small piece of dark chocolate.

Finish: The finish sees the most dramatic difference after the introduction of chocolate. Lots of mocha. Java. Espresso. Cocoa beans. Cinnamon. Lovely.

Overall Comments: True to it's range it is a big and bold whisky. It doesn't promise layer upon layer of complex flavors but what it has are on point. Very tasty dram. Made even more tasty with a bit of bitter dark chocolate.

@Nozinan I've not had the 2011 so can't say. But I feel they are all quite good and pretty much in the same flavor quadrant. Which, in my opinion, is both a good thing and, perhaps, a bad thing. Consistent quality vs predictable flavors.

What a conundrum.

Drank a glass of the 2014 recently as was not really very blown away by it. I was expecting more. Could the 2013 have been better? I have no way of comparing the two side by side, but I seem to recall liking it more even though I did not keep tasting notes. I would say the 2014 lacks a bit of depth in my estimation. Delicious but "shallow" in terms of peatiness.


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.

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.

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.

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