Lagavulin 12-year-old

Overall rating
Whiskybase ID
Single Malt
Distillery Bottling
Bottling serie
Diageo Special Releases 2020
Stated Age
12 years old
Refill American Oak Casks
56.4 % Vol.
700 ml 750 ml
Bottle code
L0119CM010 00045599
Added on
30 May 2020 5:33 pm by Erik Elixir
UncoloredNon-chillfilteredCask Strength

Average value

€ 140.43

116 × in wishlist

222 × member ratings

946 × in collection

Whisky Reviews for Lagavulin 12-year-old

49 users have left a review for this whisky and scored it an average of 88.16 points

  1. Palindrome scored this whisky 88 points Expert Senior

    I'm surprised that last year's is rated lower so far on WB. I like last years a touch better. The nose on this one is the usual Lag oceanic fun. It's a beat more "bready" and "doughy" than last year's nose. The wash has fully integrated into the cask wood and peat. In some batches, this is not so. For instance, I have a 9 year old single cask that still is fairly independent from the wood and peat. For me, it takes 12 years for a Lag to become pleasing. Less than that does not gain my affections as easily. Not all distilleries are that way. For some reason, Bruichladdich can go younger and still get away from that "mezcal/banana" not that I don't like. I am allergic to bananas and I've been sick on mezcal, plus younger whisky is often more apt to give me a hangover, and so my tastebuds reject it somewhat and that's what mother nature designed a sense of taste to do, after all: to warn the body of a possible threat to the health. Pregnant women have usually the best sense of smell and taste for obvious reasons (to protect baby). Too bad it's inappropriate for them to taste and spit whisky. After all, they would taste and smell things that most people could not detect. Well, getting back to the nose of this Lag: it's more woody than last year's. Maybe a virgin oak cask mixed in? Oak tannins come right through, and it's nice but I'm not sure I would like the bitterness every time I enjoy this bottle.

    I think in time the nose could become less woody. I'm too pressed for time to test with water today and see if the wood note is less. In short I like last year's nose two points higher than 2020's nose.

    MOUTH: Well, this is quite nice indeed. The peat seems more complex on the palate, which is often the reverse of many good Islays. There is almost an old Brora waxy note from the coal fire days. And of course there's that "sweet and sour" admixture that is often present these days in a good Lag. Still, it feels more focused than last year's . . . even though last years did have more peat smoke, per se.

    What is left here is a bit of Brazil nut, along with a kind of porridge thing, along with dried lemon rind with no juice, per se. Last year's is more oceanic. I have a bottle open right here to compare. The nose and palate are both more oceanic in the 2019 release, at least to my sense of things. And I go to the beach all of the time. In fact, Oregon's beaches are quite a bit like Islay's beaches.

    Last year's Lag 12 finish seems more cohesive to me, but then again my bottle has been opened longer, and so it's not a fair comparison.

    Both finishes are long for a 12 year old anything, but maybe not overly long for a Lag 12. These Lagavulins tend to have long finishes when compared with other Islays.

    The smoke is dialed down this year, yes, it's not as pronounced as in 2019. It's a bit less of a "peater," and so those who enjoy Octomore, for instance, would probably like 2019 more than 2020 of the Diageo Lag. It's odd that last year's is less ashy but more peaty and smoky. Odd. I tend to favor smoke over ash, and so one point less for the finish of this year's than last year's. I did not compare either dram with water, so be warned. This review is at cask strength, but my mouth tends to salivate more than most people's and so my tongue doesn't go numb really as much. In fact, I can feel my mouth salivate just from smelling a whisky, as though to prepare the mouth for what is to come, especially if it is cask strength.

    All told, I find the 2020 to be quite smooth and it reminds me a little of the 2017 and even the 2016. It is less of a wild ride and perhaps less complex than last year's Lag 12. But I must say that both the 2017 and the 2016 were far more FRUITY, and we are talking about actual fruits, rather than merely a bit of lemon oil and citrus. This year's Lag is NOT fruity. But it has other similarities to the 2017 and the 2016, such as smoothness.


    Update: I tried some water in my dram. Probably diluted down to about 48 percent. It did benefit from the water in that the palate became more expansive, but the nose became less sophisticated, and perhaps less pleasing in terms of what scents came through. I recommend enjoying your dram olfactorily, and then putting a few drops of water: a nice compromise.

    This year's seems to need water more than last year's. Ditto with the 2017. It was fine without water and did not attack the tongue meats as this year's does, just a little. Then again, my bottle has not been open long. I do not have an open bottle of the 2017, but I finished one recently. I really liked the 2017 and the 2016 a lot.

    Frankly, I liked both of those years more than anything that has come down the pike since. I know that 2016 rated highest, but 2017 is a sleeper hit, if you ask me. It's very complex and lovely with some unique sweet notes that seem to say "age" to me. Yes, I think the 2017 has some older than 12 year old casks in the batch. Just my guess. I might say the same for 2016. In fact, I'm almost sure that 2016 also has older casks than 12 years of age. Not so, with 2020, I'm afraid. If anything, it tastes a hair younger than 12, even though I trust Lagavulin to label what it is. This year's Lag tastes young for its age. That is my final assessment. Call the 2020 Lag "immature" if you wish. It's strange to say that "ashy" is young, however. This seems like an oxymoron.

    One last thing: I gave last year's Lag an 89. Also, this Lag is not a "fruity" dram, despite what folks say. It has a hint of citrus. That is all. If that makes a "fruity" dram, then I am Ebeneezer Scrooge. Also, IMHO the lemon note on the palate is more dried skin than the juice or fruit of a lemon. The sort of thing one tastes in some cookies and candies that are home baked and call for this ingredient. I'm sorry to say that I miss it in many recipes these days. People of the early 20th century made more use of their lemons because the fruits were more rare. They saved the dried skins for recipes and that is lovely. Anyway, this Lag captures that bygone hint of a millennium gone by. The skin of a Meyer lemon is not a thing to be trifled with. A little goes a long way in cookies. And the added note is quite rewarding as opposed to less potent and less sharp "lemon juice" which does not have the zesty staying power of the dried skin. I've also heard people mentioned grapefruit juice in their reviews of the 2020. I do not detect that note but peat can mingle with the sharper lemon zest and create such an illusion. In the final analysis, the lemon note comes from oak tannins. As I've said, I detect some virgin oak in this year's release. Call me crazy. It's just a hunch. I have no "flies on the wall" at this distillery, although I do occasionally enjoy a few insider tips from other distilleries.

  2. hs305 scored this whisky 89 points Connoisseur

    [October, 2020] I liked last year's Lagavulin 12-years old Special Release very much (92 points) and Diageo did what they do annually: They simply increased the price by another 15 per cent. So is this year's edition 15 per cent better hence even more enjoyable, too?

    No, it is not. To be honest: The profiles are almost identical (hey, why should they change?) but this year's edition is more rough and assertive than last year's and displays less freshness and harmony for that very reason. Still this is a great dram, no doubt. But I rather go for the 2019 Special Release which still is available at cheaper prices (WB id 140080)...
    • Nose
      89 89
      The colour is jonquiripe corn and the nose offers the trademark young Lagavulin profile of maritime-peaty, barley-malty and spicy-wooden aromas in abundance. Somehow this nose is more aggressive than last year's one and it seems it is the wood which is more assertive in this batch. It drives the nose a little out of balance, but heavy wood lovers might be in favour of that. For the very same reason I miss the freshness which was so great in the 2019 release but hey, still this is a very fine nose!
    • Taste
      90 90
      The taste is excellent as usual with the holy trinity of the whisky gods (malt, peat and wood) in almost perfect balance. Yes, the wood is strong here too but the powerful barley sugary and maritime-peaty flavours counter this easily (better than in the nose). After some chewing more flavours are released, among them chalky-mineralic, waxy and fruity impressions. The bitter and the sweet side of this dram are a great combo and they team up nicely. No flaw or off-note to detect - there are hardly any flaws in Lagavulin drams at all, so far...
    • Finish
      89 89
      The initial mouthfeel is powerful and hot, no wonder at 56.4% abv. The texture is creamy and coats all of the mouth but there are some bitter-drying moments too (it is the wood, stupid!). The finish is long and turns increasingly bitter on both cold ashes and tannins of the wood. Again, the wood is a little too powerful in this batch (for my taste buds, only). Water strengthens the bitter (wooden) side in the nose but turns the taste smoother hence more quaffable. I like to nose this dram neat and prefer to drink it reduced to about 48% abv.

  3. rampah scored this whisky 89 points Expert Senior

    I honestly cannot tell the difference between this one and last years version.

    It is very good, as always. But since the older versions are still cheaper, I would recommend to look out for them instead.

  4. whiskydramo scored this whisky 85 points Expert Senior

    • Nose
      Vegetative sweet peat. Rice cake. Liquorice. Tar and a little bit medical and herbs. Fruit leaf. Walnut, blackcurrant bud. Earthy. Mint. Dried salty fish stinkiness if you dig your nose into it, especially from the bottom. Light pomelo zest.
    • Taste
      Tar, earthy. Not so sweet. Mint. Pomelo those not sweet . Some spices. Spiciness doesn't stay. Grass and anise. Not much change. Watery. Some smoke but no peat
    • Finish
      Sharp pepper. Astringent upper mouth. Slightly bitter, still feels like those big pomelo peel. Later on tiny bit of the vegetative peat, like smoked veg

  5. thijs100 scored this whisky 88 points Connoisseur

    Classically good, the Lagavulin 12 Years never disappoints.
    • Nose
      Lovely notes of nougat, grapefruit and a smouldering bonfire. There are some band aids as well, followed by tinned pineapple, pickled lemon, soft oak spices and a slight minerality. Also some green veggies. Outstanding!
    • Taste
      Sweet arrival followed by tar, charcoal, ashes and subtle spicy notes. Some linseed oil, lemon, and green olives, finally some liquorice.
    • Finish
      Drying, iodine, oak and black pepper. Finally a whiff of chocolate. Long.

  6. MrDvorak scored this whisky 86 points Expert Junior

    RATING: 86pts – |83 – 86 (B) → Good| — Not a “must”, but a nice-to-have.
    • Nose
      87 87
      The nose has a beautiful Lagavulin-ish smokiness and peatiness with hints of vanilla, foliage and smoked oily fish.
    • Taste
      86 86
      The taste is bittersweet, oily with nice creaminess and notes of seaweed, tobacco with light vanilla influences.
    • Finish
      86 86
      The finish is medium lenght and beautifuly warm with notes of smoked meat, brown sugar and burnt hay.

  7. dram-drinker scored this whisky 86 points Moderator

    Not bad, but nothing special
    • Nose
      86 86
      Peaty, smoky, vanilla, leafy notes, little seabreeze, some iodine, smoked fish - not bad
    • Taste
      87 87
      Oily, little creamy, subtle sweetness, more iodine, seawater, little seaweed, cigar ashes, peaty, little vanilla, little honey
    • Finish
      85 85
      Medium long, warm

  8. wbarchive_875995 did not rate this whisky Expert Junior

    Smoky salty smoked meat with brown sugar, fish oil, caramel and burnt hay.

    RATING: 85pts - [n21,t22,f21,b21] → |83-85: Decent|

  9. wisekycourse scored this whisky 88 points Connoisseur

    mellow, intense, smoky, iodine, medicinal, "citrusy" and on pineapple
    sweetness of flavors that enter gently
    peaty on farmhouse hay, on salt from crates of fish, on peppery spices,
    peat which becomes heavy a bit like the rival Laphroaig with tar, charcoal, then citrus fruits with roasted lime, pineapple, a little caramel
    farmer's return with earthy, medicinal peat and fruits with mixed
    earthy, medicinal peat, slightly soggy barn hay and citrus, fairly long finish.

    the next day, cold ashes from the extinguished fire, flying ash dust!

  10. Sandman scored this whisky 79 points Connoisseur

    • Nose
      Medicinal, smoke, apricot, caramel, butter babbler, vanilla custard, maritime, cereals and citrus
    • Taste
      Sea water, ashtray, charred wood, iodine, hint of plasters, dried lemon peel and smoke
    • Finish
      Medium, dry, lemon juice, smoke, sea salt, almonds, plasters and burnt wood


Add tasting tags by clicking the flavours you recognized in this whisky.


Whiskybase is founded in 2007 with the goal to create the biggest resource of whisky information in the world. A community driven website built by and for whisky enthusiasts.  

Whiskybase B.V. 
Zwaanshals 530 
3035 KS Rotterdam 
The Netherlands 

KVK: 52072819
VAT: NL850288836B01

Copyright © 2021

Forgot your password?