Next up in Lagavulin 12 CS week is the 2019 release. As I think I noted in the intro to Monday’s review of the 2018 release, it was in 2019 that Diageo changed the label design for the Lagavulin 12 from the old functional label to something altogether prettier; and I think they raised the price too. Let’s see if they did anything to what’s inside the bottle.
Lagavulin 12 CS, 2019 Release (56.5%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Very close to the 2018 with a big hit of lemon, carbolic peat, salt and a mild farmy note. The smoke gets drier as it sits but then with more time and air there are some sweeter, coastal notes (shells, kelp). Okay, let’s add water. A few drops of water push the lemon back a bit and pull out more mineral notes (wet stones, chalk) along with more salt.
Palate: Very sweet arrival and not hugely phenolic at first. But as I swallow the phenols build along with the sweet notes that include aniseed. Nice texture and very approachable at full strength. The smoke is sharper and sootier on the second sip and there’s more of the farmy quality from the nose (rotting leaves). Water brings better balance between the sweeter notes, the phenols and the lemon, which is more prominent now.
Finish: Long. The smoke expands and keeps on going. Less pepper here than in the 2018 and also less salt. The aniseed from the palate gets more herbal here. As on the palate with water.
Comments: As with all editions of Lagavulin 12 CS this is very good. But it’s a step or two back from the 2018 edition in my view. A bit too much sweetness on the palate: it dominates the other notes and throws the balance off a bit—and it’s just a little too herbal on the finish. That’s neat. With water the gap is smaller.
Rating: 88 points.