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Monday, November 19, 2018

Lagavulin 12 year old Cask Strength (2018 release)

It's time for some actual Islay whisky royalty: the Lagavulin 12 year old CS. As I mentioned when I reviewed the 2017 release, less than four months ago, this the only member of the annual Diageo Press Release in Whisky Form (also known as The Special Releases) that I look forward to. It's also the only whisky from that group that doesn't change. It's always the same age and same cask type. The ABV moves within a 4 point range, but other than that there's little technical difference. What's even more important is that the quality remains high, year after year. Time to see (taste) if that continues in this year's edition.

Distillery: Lagavulin
Owner: Diageo
Region: Islay
Maturation: refill American oak casks
Age: minimum 12 years
Release date: 2017
Outturn: ??,???
Alcohol by Volume: 57.8%
Chill-filtration? Probably not
Caramel coloring? Probably not
(from a purchased sample)

The nose:
  • Part 1: Lemons, tar, ocean and sugar peat.
  • Part 2: Toffee chips, floral white peaches and green veg notes.
  • Part 3: Organic, earthy peat.
Underneath swirls of dark smoke drift bright tart lemons on the palate. Salt, dried thyme, mint leaf and cocoa sit in the midground. It's massively mineral. Everything is in balance in the long finish: dense smoke, mint leaf, limes and mild sweetness.

DILUTED TO ~48%abv, or 1¼ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
In the nose, earthy peat and dried herbs are on top, while grapefruit, guava and limes lie beneath. Sometimes the palate feels even heavier, peatier, more herbal than the neat version. There's also a rich fruity sweetness and tart citrus. It finishes with smoke residue, citrus, salty and savoury notes.

"Those fuckers."

That's what I say every time I try another batch of Lagavulin 12yo CS. This is the best, most consistent cask strength whisky Diageo has. It's irritatingly remarkable.

This release feels a little younger than usual when neat, but dilution solves any (minor) issue. Excellent stuff. Again. May they never change whatever it is they're doing, and also not raise the price any further.

Availability - Most specialty spirits retailers worldwide
Pricing - $110-$160 (US) 
Rating - 90

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