Lagavulin 12 Year


The Lagavulin 12-Year Old is a solid whisky, but when considering the cost of this versus other Lagavulin offerings we would be hard-pressed to put this at the top of the list in rating or value.

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We are finally to the fourth of our planned reviews in the Lagavulin series.  After reviewing the Lagavulin 8-Year Old, 16-Year Old, and Distillers Edition, we now finish with the 200th anniversary Limited Edition 12-Year Old Laguvulin.  The Lagavulin 12-Year Old is a cask strength release bottled at 57.7% ABV.


So how does the distillery describe their product – taken from the box packaging: “This truly is a special release for Lagavulin; it’s now two hundred years since the first casks were filled at Islay’s most famous distillery.  On the nose, this natural cask strength expression combines powerful peat-smoke with fresh clean aromas and an intense fruity sweetness.  Add water and the aromas grow livelier, with mint and distant volcanic smoke.  The palate is surprisingly mild; sweet and smoothly oily, with a rising smoky pungency, and when water is added a hugely smoky-honeyed sweetness develops, still balanced by salt and aromatic smoke.  The long refined finish is smoothly cooling, then warming, sweetly pungent and powerfully smoky.  Slightly lighter than recent expressions, and less drying, this is a fine, well-structured Lagavulin, versatile and equally home with food or after dinner.

Lagavulin 12 Year Islay Whisky(2016 edition) Stats:
  • Mash Bill: 100% malted barley dried over peat
  • Casks: refill ex-bourbon oak casks
  • Age: 12-years old
  • ABV: 57.7% (115.4 proof)
  • Producer: Lagavulin Distillery
  • Price: $135-150
  • Availability: limited release, but available


Notes where Jeremy and I are in agreement will have no annotation – differences and slight variance are annotated by inclusion of our initials (WJ) or (JR).


golden straw, hay


salty, briny, cereal notes, phenolic, smoke, iodine, with some citrus notes – lemon (WJ); bolder smoke – with a bit of briny sea, a bit harsh and unrefined – not complex, in fact too simple (JR)


sweet biscuit, smoke; honey, pepper, with heat from the ABV, plus a bit of caramel comes through with water added (WJ); needs water, does not deal with higher ABV as well as some other cask strength whiskies, and thinner than expected (JR)


nice mouthfeel, with lingering smoke, not overpowering, medium-long finish (WJ); medium length finish, but primarily due to alcohol (JR)


LAGAVULIN 12-YEAR OLD:  Not sure it is worth the extra cost versus the 16-Year Old or Distillers Edition – it is a nice Islay whisky do not get me wrong, but for the price I would probably put my money towards a different Lagavulin product.  I would personally buy two Lagavulin 8-Year Old bottles for the price of one bottle of 12-Year Old at this point (WJ).  After initially rating this higher when tasting it amongst several other Islay whiskies, this time it falls sharply.  It lacks interesting facets – get the 16-Year Old (JR). Score:  87.5 (combined); 88.5 (WJ) and 86.5 (JR)


Next up is a quick recap of our first four reviews from the Lagavulin Distillery.  Thanks for reading and please provide comments if you have them.  We leave you this fine day with the great words of W.C. Fields – “Always carry a flagon of whiskey in case of a snakebite, and furthermore, always carry a small snake.”

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About Author

Senior Staff Writer, Wes, was born and raised in Darlington, South Carolina and attended college at the United States Air Force Academy. After flying helicopters for the Air Force and teaching at the Air Force Academy, he retired in beautiful Colorado Springs, Colorado, after twenty years of military service. He now works in public school education, is married with three children, and leads the monthly Proper Pour Whisk(e)y Club. You can follow him on Twitter @WesModernThirst and e-mail him at

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