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Lagavulin 12 Year old Cask Strength

Loud, lovable Laga

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@WhiskyBeeReview by @WhiskyBee

13th Apr 2013


Lagavulin 12 Year old Cask Strength
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I’ve read a few online comments suggesting that the quality of Lagavulin 12 Cask Strength has declined incrementally year-by-year, but I have no complaints about this 2011 bottling. If I rate it lower (by a mere point) than my beloved Laga 16, it’s only because I find the 16’s balance slightly preferable to the 12’s boldness. But it’s like comparing a Lamborghini to a Ferrari. Both of them kick some serious butt on the whisky Autobahn.

Review based on a bottle opened in early February, and now slightly above the halfway mark. First dram sampled since I gave it a couple of shots of Private Preserve about three weeks ago.

Nose: Peat, for sure, but less than one might expect from one of the renowned Islay Peat Monsters. More specifically, it’s like peat with its typical lemon sub-component more dominant. Loads of sea and brine, like someone just opened the dill pickle jar at the beach picnic. The unexpected elements (for those expecting something similar to the 16 yo, that is) include some vanilla, caramel, acidic cigars, and a touch of mint. A teaspoon of water forces the sweetness into retreat, as some earthy and herbal elements charge to the front lines. It’s a demanding nose, but the rewards are more than worth the effort.

Palate: A stinging arrival of black pepper, lemons, and pickled herring. An onslaught of elements both sweet and dry in the development: wood smoke, peat, seaweed, grapefruit, malt, and some mild saltiness. The finish needs a few moments to gather steam, but once the pepper and smoke emerge, they hang around for a long time. The sweetness has all but vanished, but the dry lightness is a perfect counterpoint to the striking arrival and development.

Lagavulin 12 Cask Strength is a perfect blend of youth that’s bold and experimental, and tradition that’s still recognizably Lagavulin. For you jazz fans out there, I’m listening to Miles Davis’s “E.S.P.” as I sip and write, and it’s a most felicitous soundtrack for the occasion.

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Jonathan commented

Peaty lemon and acidic cigars, indeed! Your review really captures some of the notes that I smell and taste in this whisky.

Was the Private Reserve a preventative measure or have you already noticed changes in the 12 since opening? I ask because I have a half empty bottle that is now a few months old. (Part of my wants to see how it develops over time, especially since I can't imagine this one going "flat." On the other hand, I quite like it the way it is out of the bottle.)

11 years ago 0

WhiskyBee commented

@Jonathan - I haven't noticed any changes at all, but I can't say for sure if that's because of using the Preserve or that the bottle's been opened for only a couple of months. I use Private Preserve on peated whiskies, especially after the bottle's down by at least a few drams, as peat is the component that breaks down fastest over time.

I also use the P.P. for about half of the other bottles in my collection. Some whiskies benefit from time and a bit of oxidation, and I just go by my tastes, the advice of others, and my gut instinct for those. ;)

11 years ago 0

Taco commented

I hope you stocked up on the 2011 (which is wonderful), as the 2012 is not nearly as good. I can't find any more 2011's in any of the stores, so I guess I'll hope the '12 improves with time and air. I'd give the '11 a 92 (it sent me into nirvana each time I've drammed it and I only have two drams left!) and the '12 an 87. Obviously a big drop, so I hope air works wonders.

11 years ago 0