Lagavulin 12

Lagavulin 12Lagavulin 12, non-chill filtered, 54.4% ABV. 2014 bottling.

After my last tasting, I wanted to explore another Islay whiskey. I have been reading about the Lagavulin 12, and the twice a year single malt sale was on at the local liquor store. So the time seemed appropriate to sieze the opportunity.

The nose is subtle. Not overpowering, but an intriguing mix of medicinal, iodine, elements with some vanilla and smoke.

On the palate, this whiskey is a little oliy or creamy, coating the mouth. There are hints of herbs and very subtle flavor notes of vanilla and pepper-like spice. There are the expected Islay elements with layers of iodine, seaweed, and smoke. The medicinal peat of this dram stays with you for a while. I read a review before I purchased this bottle, where the tasting note described it as a “jammy ashtray”. I did not find it to have as much sweetness, but in some ways it captures the complex profile of this whiskey.

I found the finish to be warm and long, particularly for a 12 year old. It is a dry finish.

This is a fun whiskey, and an interesting contrast to Lagavulin’s other offerings. While I do tend to favor Laugavulin 16, the 12 year old is produced at cask strength giving it a youthful aggressiveness and distinct finish. On the other hand, it is surprisingly priced higher that the Laugavulin 16. Apparently, this is a product of a market demand issue, with a much smaller distribution of Lagavulin 12.

If you like the peat, smoke, medicinal notes of Islay whiskeys, I suspect you would like this one.   It is a good balanced representation of the quality of 12 year aged single malts from Islay. You would find that other Islay expressions of similar age are likely to cost less.

Ardbeg Supernova

Ardbeg SupernovaArdbeg Supernova (Committee Release SN2014). non-chill filtered. 55% ABV.

This is a limited edition, non-age statement, release from Ardbeg with an emphasis on the peat, a rating of 100ppm which is nearly double than found for Ardbeg 10. It is clearly at the high end of peat for Ardbeg, but not at the level of Bruichladdich Octomore (169ppm). The 2014 Supernova bottling includes whisky finished in sherry-casks but remains very light in color.

The nose is modest, peat and brine, a little grassy, but also with a sweetness element. Underlying smoke. Some familiar Ardbeg notes.

On first sip, it is a more gentle entry on the palate than I would anticipate from the nose and the high peat ppm. Initial spicy, orange peel, smoked citrus, slowly giving way to the peat and sweet seaweed. Subsequent sips bring liquorice, dry espresso, pepper.

The finish is not particularly long, showing the youth of the bottling. It is a dry finish, with the sweet citrus and smoke lingering as the other tastes fade.

Given my fondness for Islay single malts, it is not surprising that I have some affinity for this dram. But, I have one major reservation. The price is nearly three times that for Ardbeg 10, and 60% more than for Ardbeg Correyveckran or Ardbeg Uigeadail.   I will certainly enjoy this bottle, but in the future, I would find any of these other Ardbegs to be equally satisfying to drink and leave me with funds to explore others.