Well yet again, I’ve gotten behind. If you’ve perused through my site you may have noticed that my whisky reviews blog has gotten little to not attention since I launched For Da Luva Whiskay! Rest assured that is NOT for lack of research (ie. tasting amazing whiskies on my part), I’ve got plenty of entries to write from lots of great tastings. So, let’s dive in.
We back with my overall favorite distiller, Lagavulin. Again, Lagavulin is just the one that calls to me and warms my soul… it’s the whisky I’m tried to match when I don’t have the cash to swing their price.
I’m going to look at both the Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition and the Lagavulin 12 year old (I had the 2016 release of both). Both are released every year but are considered a limited or special bottling. In Oregon, where I live, the Lagavulin 16 is always available but stocks do dwindle about 9 months after the DE and 12 show up.
One mistake I made when I first got into Scotch and Irish Whiskey is thinking that a distiller had their entry level, lower priced bottling and then each step up was an improvement on that. I quickly learn that was not the case. That would be like saying every vehicle in the Ford line up is an improvement or enhancement of the Ford Escort. Clearly that’s a false perspective, as was mine on how a distiller’s whisky line is crafted and bottled. Each edition is its own entity with specific flavors and characters.
This is CLEARLY true when you set Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition (I’ll just call it DE from here on out) and Lagavulin 12 side by side for a tasting. They couldn’t be more different.
Lagavulin Distillers Edition
The DE does share some similar qualities with the 16: smoky, peaty, sweat. But with the DE, it is such a smoother, softer, easier drinking Scotch. The sherry cask influence is clear in the sweet tasting notes. It almost makes me think for the powerful but mellow aromas of pipe tobacco. The DE is aged 15 years.
On the downside, it does look highly colored, but the color matches the flavor profile so I really don’t care too much. And the taste is amazing, so I care even less about coloring. Also, it’s bottled at 43% AV, I think for a DE they could go 46%.
Those two minor critiques being said, this is an amazing whisky and l loved it. At $105 in Oregon, I’ll still be looking to grab one of these with each year’s release. I think it’s well worth it and I highly recommended the Lagavulin DE!
MY TASTING NOTES:
Lagavulin Distillers Edition neat, no ice, no water:
Color: beautiful deep orange/reddish amber
Nose: sweet, strong smoky peat, much softer and gentler than the 16, rich cedar hints, brown sugar-butter-cinnamon, slight iodine
Palate: thick, creamy, oily initially, lightly active tingle, rich but soft smoky peat, like a very gentle version of the 16
Finish: lingering finish from the oils, lively and active like a mouthwash without the burn
Lagavulin Distillers Edition with cool water:
Nose: touch of water actually activates the fumes, makes the whisky a bit more lively, more iodine and notes of the sea, caramel/honey rich sweetness, like gourmet confections
Palate: water cuts the oiliness but the taste is still solid, iodine notes increased
Finish: quick finish with reduced oils but the flavor stays with a very gentle/soft tingle
Like I said above, the 12 couldn’t be more different from the DE. As I’m looking at my tasting notes as I type this, I’m realizing the notes fail to capture the 12’s powerful flavor. First, the 12 is bottled at cask strength. At the 57.7% AV, this packs a punch… a big, beautiful, peaty, Islay punch! You’re immediately hit with the strong medicinal scents, iodine, salt water and of course, alcohol. Everything is going to light up with the first sip… lips, tongue, cheek, nose, throat. The 12, by design, packs a wallop. I tried it both straight neat and with a bit (well, a little more than a standard bit) of cool water. The water was a good choice to settle down the aggressiveness of this cask strength beauty.
Color wise, this is a VERY light whisky so either they skipped the caramel coloring or went really light with it. Either way, you notice the light color immediately, especially if you’re a fan of the 16 or DE, this is a very light light gold whisky.
At $135 in my area I’m not sure this will be a yearly purchase for me, but I will definitely buy a few more again before my whisky days come to a close.
MY TASTING NOTES:
Lagavulin 12 neat, no ice, no water:
Color: light bright gold
Nose: iodine, medicinal, sea water, smoke, vinegar, BBQ sauce, no sweetness
Palate: lively and active on the tongue, medicinal iodine carries through, powerful
Finish: lightly creamy, not heavy, spicy on the gums and cheeks
Lagavulin 12 with cool water
Nose: very little change except a slight softening of the nosing from the neat
Palate: still very intense, iodine, medicinal, sea water
Finish: lightly creamy, spicy and active
MY WHISKEY LIKES & LOVES
About the Author
I came to the joys of uisce beatha - Irish for whiskey (pronounced ish-ka bah-hah) - later in life, but now I'm diving in!