Lagavulin 21 years (2012)

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