Lagavulin 12 appears in the Diageo Special Releases nearly every year — but this year it has the luxury of appearing as part of Lagavulin’s 200th anniversary celebratory releases (see also its 8 year old and 25 year old).
This year’s Lag 12, aged in refill American oak hogsheads, is particularly worthwhile, rounded and balanced right from the start, which kicks off on the nose with notes of sweet barbecue smoke, plus hefty iodine and seaweed. There’s citrus notes — lemon and orange — in the mix, with a hard-to-place character that ultimately hits me as lemongrass. The palate is surprisingly restrained considering the hefty proof level, a centerpiece for briny seaweed, lemon peel, and a touch of spice. The finish retreats to a rather bitter note, which works surprisingly well with the mild sweetness and fruity notes that come before.
All told, it’s a bit of a departure from prior Lagavulin 12s, which have tended to be quite heavy on the peat, but this year’s relative quietness really lets Lagavulin’s more delicate, underlying character shine through.
A- / $135 / malts.com