Single malt whisky - tasting notes

19 Dec 2013

Lagavulin 12 years (2013)

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Lagavulin

The yearly Lagavulin 12 Years Old, matured in refill American oak and bottled at cask strength, 55.1% this year.

Check out my reviews of other annual releases of Lagavulin 12 Years.


Lagavulin 12 Year OldLagavulin 12 yo
(55,1%, OB 2013, 13th release)

Nose: sweet, slightly youngish aromas at first. Redcurrant, a little banana. A classic lemon and pepper combination. Earthy peat, kind of leafy, with a soft matchstick edge. Some chalk as well, even a few waxy notes. Is it me or did this one grow towards Laphroaig and Ardbeg in the last few years? Mouth: hot and peppery at first (slightly alcoholic), quite dry as well, with some herbal notes / burnt grasses. Deep peat smoke and slightly bitter charred notes. Develops sweeter notes in a second phase. Apples, a little honey. Cocoa. Hints of rubber and tar. Some iodine. Salty liquorice and a citrus top note. Finish: long, ashy and chocolaty.

Lagavulin 12 Years has always been a good, straightforward whisky and this is no exception. Especially the combination of sweetness and heavy peat is nicely done. But the character is slowly changing and maybe not for the better. Around € 95.

Score: 86/100

Lagavulin 12 years (2013) 3.5 Ruben Luyten 2013-12-19
  • S.

    Hi Ruben,
    interesting what you’re saying about the Lagavulin 12 Years “growing towards Laphroaig and Ardbeg in the last few years”.
    I got poured blind the Lagav.12 Y.O from 2011 about 2 years ago and my blind guess was that it was like a cheap-ish young and undeveloped Laphroaig at cask strength probably from a refill Hogshead at 9-10 years of age. When I found out it was Lagavulin 12 I was SHOCKED! I was so disappointed considering the high esteem that I had for it. The week after I bought my own bottle of the Lagav.12 from 2007 blind to them and they got me, but what was flattering was the differences in quality! We had the 2011 and 2007 side by side and the 2011 was MISERABLE in comparison! I reckon the 2008 was almost as good if not as good as the 2007 but all that to say that I think you’re probably right about your point of it ‘going towards Laphroaig and Ardbeg’ and especially that I think it has gone down in quality in the last 3-4 years. Before it had an elegance and sophistication that it didn’t seem to have afterwards and more importantly, a better balance between oak and spirit. Now I feel that some batches are even more naked with more knackered casks and possibly even a poorer distillate quality! (This is not a disrespect towards Laphroaig or Ardbeg which can be great Whiskies in their own style) but more a point to make over an edition which has gained a big loyal cult following over the years which may nowadays just be a “fantasy” or an overrated Whisky.

  • WhiskyNotes

    I’m glad I’m not the only one noticing the change. At first I was a little confused as all reviews so far seemed to really like it (but then again they tried it by invitation at a Diageo dinner). I’ve never been a huge fan so I wasn’t inclined to compare all the yearly expressions, but the change with 2007 and 2009 that I have in my collection is hard to miss.

  • cavalier66

    Funnily enough, Serge at WF feels that they are getting better and better each year – this one has the highest ever score for a 12 year old Laga (92)! Each to their own I suppose.

  • WhiskyNotes

    I have some difficulty reading it’s a simply whisky – which is true – and seeing this kind of score at the same time. In my opinion simple peat juice is not the summum of whisky. There’s other whisky in my cupboard for future generations 😉

  • NT

    Hi Ruben,

    Do you prefer the Distillers Edition or the 12yo?

  • WhiskyNotes

    It’s difficult to make a general statement as there are many different batches – some better, some worse, in both cases. I haven’t tried all of them either, but in general I prefer a DE over the recent 12yo.

    Note to self: review a DE asap.



December 2015
« Nov    

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)

1934 notes by Ruben

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