This is the last in my long, drawn-out vertical of Lagavulin 12 releases from 2009 to 2012. At the tasting with friends back in September when we actually drank all four head-to-head-to-head-to-head the group was unanimous that this was the one that was a bit of an outlier as the peat seemed a little “dirtier” or farmier. Let’s see if that holds up two months later or if that note seems less pronounced when the whisky is tasted by its lonesome.
Lagavulin 12 CS, 2012 (56.1%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Nope, this is still farmy. Iodine, kelp and lots of lemon. And lots of briny green notes too: olive brine, rotting kelp. Gets rather salty very quickly. A touch of creamy vanilla too with time but you have to work to find it. With a lot more time the farmy note dissipates somewhat and now there’s a distinct cereally character, with the lemon-olive thing right below it. With a few drops of water the creamy vanilla expands and there’s a bit of a smoky lemon curd thing going on.
Palate: Much smokier on the palate: ashy smoke that gets more pungent and bitter as it goes. Also, loads of lemon and olives and an increasing inkiness. The smoke is a lot farmier and dryer (wood smoke) on the second sip. With time the lemon takes center stage and the salt expands too. More sweetness on the palate too with water and the smoke gets dialed back just a little.
Finish: Long. The smoke and iodine lead but later as I breathe out its the salt and lemon that leave the lasting impression. Water brings balance between the lemon and smoke.
Comments: This is very nice, of course, but I think my least favourite of the four Lagavulin 12s. This is partly because the cleaner, sharper smoke of the others appeals to me more and also because there was just far less going on on the palate with this one. No other fruit but lemon as there were in the 2010 and even the 2011, and not quite as much depth of flavour as in the 2009, which this is probably closest to. I did like it more with water. Okay, now to wait for the 2013 edition to go on sale somewhere or the other next year or in 2015.
Rating: 87 points.