“Conventional wisdom suggests that Lagavulin is at its peak at 16 years of age. However, this superlative 12 year old confirms why many consumers like their Lagavulin younger. This is Lagavulin at its very best: bold, yet complex and satisfying; full of character, with smoky, savory, maritime, sweet vanilla, and fruit notes all merging into a balanced and eminently drinkable whole. It takes a few drops of water well, releasing burnt grass aromas and more palate sweetness. The Diageo Special Releases are not known to be bargains, but this Lagavulin is sensibly priced, and the greatest all-around value from the 2017 lineup.”
Appearance: Very pale silvery gold.
Nose: Simple, natural and mild; clean and fresh, with intense sweetness at the front, prickly smoke at the back and savoury, green and earthy notes at its core. Sweet sponge or liquorice, old-fashioned cleansing soap and wet wool are to the fore, then rock pools and sandy beaches, burning pine needles and ferns. The smoke builds, adding richer notes of smoked bacon and more austere mineral notes of cooled beach bonfires. In time the sweetness is lighter, with fruitier tones of apple, sweet pear and barbecued banana. A drop of water introduces a peppery note to the nose-feel and a thread of smoke to the aroma.
Body: Light and smoothly oily.
Palate: Easily approached at natural strength; rich and sweet, with a first burst of liquorice quickly supplanted by greener notes. The sweetness grows in the mid-palate, as golden syrup suffused with the savoury smoke of burning leaves, and smoked meat. That smoke becomes sweeter and spicier with black pepper and cinnamon, nutmeg and golden sugar. Finally, the greenness returns as gently drying grass. Water (it can take a good splash) emphasizes lightness, sweetness and smoke; the smoke now more mineral, the syrup and fruit simpler, fresher.
Finish: Sweet and of medium length, with a lingering smoky aftertaste.