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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Single Malt Report: Lagavulin 12 year old Cask Strength (2011 release)

Tuesday - Lagavulin 16 year old
Wednesday - Lagavulin 1991 Distillers Edition
Today - Lagavulin 12 year old Cask Strength (2011 release)

In what is possibly this site's final Lagavulin report, I present you with my favorite from their range...

Each year, Diageo presents to the whisky world their "Special Releases".  Amongst the old Broras and Port Ellens, whose MSRPs are exponentially increasing, sits the comparatively modestly priced annual Lagavulin 12 year old.  Sorry, that was a lot adverbs and adjectives.  Diageo makes me verbose.

Let's keep it short.  I've had the Lagavulin 12 release on a number of occasions, all of which were very positive.  It was nice to be able to buy a sample of the 2011 version from Master of Malt so I could officially dig in.

Please note: there are batch differences between each year's release.

Distillery: Lagavulin
Owner: THEM!  :-\
Type: Single Malt
Region: Islay
Maturation: former bourbon casks, possibly lots of refills
Age: minimum 12 years
Release date: 2011
Chill-filtration? No
Caramel coloring? No much, if any
Alcohol by Volume: 57.5%

The color is pee.  My favorite whisky color.  It gives me hope that the oak levels are low and the e150a colorant is at a minimum.  The nose starts with peated sugar cookies, followed by a load of aromatic herb notes (fennel, anise, licorice) reminiscent of my other favorite distilled spirit (dubbed "The Mistress").  Then plaster, vanilla beans, bread pudding, butterscotch make up the midground.  The beach is in the background.  The palate delivers one of my favorite peat volleys.  Just a big dry chunk of peat moss.  Hints of vanilla and butter and lemon cake.  A light sweetness, like a little light brown sugar.  Then a little salt and a little savory to go with a honey & orange peel sting.  It finishes very clean and fresh with a menthol glow.  A little cracked pepper and mint leaves.  Grass clippings drying in the sun.  Some salt, along with that peat brick.

The nose gets maltier.  The peat goes a little farmy.  A little more oak, but not much more.  Menthol, lemon peel, pen ink(?), and soil.  The palate gets grassy, drier, and tarter.  A nice bitterness.  Walnuts and almonds.  Earthiness, bitterness, and moss in the finish.

Oh dear.  Great whisky, steep price, ugly company.  The quandary.  That's what I thought about last night while enjoying this sample.

Looking past the troublesome details, I'd say, "WOW! Go get it, peatheads!"

Bringing in the expense, I'd say, "Wow!  Go get it, peatheads with a lot of discretionary income."

Taking everything into consideration, I say, "Fabulous liquid, a shame about everything else."

Availability - Specialty liquor retailers
Pricing - (for Lagavulin 12s in general) $85-$100 East Coast, $110-$125 West Coast
Rating - 92