Single malt whisky - tasting notes

06 Dec 2012

Lagavulin 21 years (2012)

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Lagavulin

Lagavulin 21There has been some discussion about this new Lagavulin 21 year old (part of the Diageo Special releases 2012). On the label it says “cask finish: sherry”, but recently Serge Valentin posted on Facebook that there was official confirmation for the fact that is was fully matured in European oak sherry casks. So it’s a perfect opponent for the old Lagavulin 21 years bottled in 2007.



Lagavulin 21 years (2012)Lagavulin 21 yo 1991 (52%,
OB 2012, first fill sherry, 2772 btl.)

Nose: a leathery type of peat, cold ashes and deep smoke. A little vanilla. Then some pepper and cardamom. Some iodine as well, mixing nicely with eucalyptus and camphor. Linseed oil. Hints of brown soap (in a good, waxy way) and geraniums. Quite some fruity notes too: red apple and raisins, even some fresh carambola. Compared to the 2007 edition, this is more velvety, subtle, a little sharper and most of all: hardly sherried. Mouth: fairly dry and mineral now, quite tarry as well. Maybe not as full-bodied as expected. Liquorice and pepper. Again a spicy / woody layer, but a more vague spiciness now. Growing even more mineral. Tobacco sourness rather than tobacco sweetness. Slowly brings forward a couple of rounder notes (dried fruits and chocolate) before ending on nutty notes (even a little Gianduja). Finish: very long, on cold ashes, seaweed, spices and a vague cocoa sweetness.


This Lagavulin 21 years is much less sherried, cleaner and also a lot thinner than the 2007 version. Was it a sherry finish in the end, or second-fill casks maybe? I’d say this tastes like a variation on the standard expressions while the previous 21yo was a variation on the Distiller’s Editions. On the nose the elegance and subtlety work really well, leaving room for a lot of tiny aromas, but on the palate it also translates as a slightly narrow profile for an old Lagavulin. I didn’t see this coming, both are top Islay drams, but in the end the old 21yo is much more fun. Around € 450-500.

Score: 92/100

Lagavulin 21 years (2012) 4.5 Ruben Luyten 2012-12-06
  • Ricardo

    Thanks for the review, as I will probably not get the chance to taste this one. BTW: Any sulfur or rubber notes in this one?

  • hogshead

    This review sounds more 90 points in my opinion.

  • WhiskyNotes

    @Ricardo: no, totally clean. But that’s quite normal as it is a totally different type of sherry, much softer.

    @hogshead: it is a great whisky nonetheless, certainly more than 90 for me. I guess it just depends what kind of profile you like best. I appreciate both the heavy sherry and the mineral type. The new one is elegant, classic Lagavulin, very clean, and the old one is very direct, a bit atypical and slightly dirty.



November 2015
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Coming up

  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1933 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.