Lagavulin 12 Year Old, always one of the most anticipated Special Releases each year. I’m always a bit skeptical towards virgin oak, which is part of the formula for 2022, alongside classic refill American oak casks. It is nicknamed The Flames of the Phoenix.
While writing this review, I also poured a glass of the 2021 release of which I have a bottle.
Lagavulin 12 yo ‘The Flames of the Phoenix’ (57,3%, OB Special Releases 2022, refill American oak + virgin oak casks)
Nose: new tyres at first, with intense medicinal notes (iodine) and seaweed. It seems a bit harsh at first, but comes together after a while. Tarry ropes and hints of petrol, as well as black pepper and ginger. Then mulching leaves, lemons, burlap, leathery notes and buttered toast. Compared to the 2021 release it’s more spicy and more spiky.
Mouth: vegetal peat, a lemon and salt combo and charred notes. Then gingery heat, chilli and herbal notes from the newish wood, as well as a good dose of antiseptics. Peatier and spicier than the 2021 and adding a dirty edge of damp earth. Later hints of hazelnut, sweet mustard seeds, earthy smoke and really nice coffee notes towards the end.
Finish: long and briny, with tar, lemons, wet leaves, anise and ashes.
I was a big fan of the 2021 release and the 2022 is a (small) step behind. I must say the virgin wood intensity works well with Lagavulin, but the rubbery edge takes me back to the 2016 release and makes it loose a point. Sold out in many places already – check your local retailer, malts.com or have a look at Master of Malt for instance.