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Lagavulin 12 yo “Special releases 2020” (2007/2020, OB, 56,4%)

lagavulin-12-special-release-2020

No Laga 12, no party. It’s a fact. Since 2002, Lagavulin’s 12 year Cask Strength old has been a permanent presence and mainstay of Diageo’s annual Special Releases. Never too different, never exactly the same, always acclaimed by critics and adored by peat fans. Although 16 years is the universal yardstick for Islay whiskies with a large distribution, the distillery’s true DNA can be found here. Let’s see if it’s good enough to fly away in 2020 as well.

lagavulin-12-special-release-2020

N: the nose welcomes us with open arms, as always. It starts with peat and a ‘burnt’ smoke. Let’s explain: there is a lot of warm, crisp peat; it reminds a bonfire with wood smoke rather than burnt plastic (which is there anyway, even if the effect is less ‘burnt tyre’ than in other editions). Then, the cereal and the spirit come to the fore: if you’ve been to a distillery on Islay, you’ll find all those scents here, the mash, the malting floor, the still room… Beautifully ethereal, it has vaporous notes of ironing starch and talcum powder. The citrus part is inviting, between cedar and lime. The sea is there: but it is a whipping sea breeze, not a wave spray. And if we tell you so, we who have been ploughing the Lombard oceans for almost 40 years…

P: well, what a beauty. If last year’s Laga seemed a bit pandering, this one is back on the side of austerity, which is dear to us. It is very marine, very salty: there is brackish water, even a little smoked fish. This is because, not to spoil too much, it is a peaty whisky, you know?, and therefore tastes of smoke – here very burnt and acrid. Black olives, a touch of brine. Lemon peel. Even some light fruit, a platonic idea of pear, white grape. A metallic note, like when you accidentally bite into the foil wrapping the sandwich. And on this, we go to the finale…

F: …which is long, very long, infinite: wax and bonfire, still a little fat.

We have the unpleasant sensation of déjà écrit: it won’t be a monster of complexity, we’ve drunk more structured, more varied Laga, and so on. But the reality is that one of the few tautologies of the Scotch world has been confirmed once again this year: Lagavulin 12 years cask strength is always a great drink. Different from last year’s, but identical in our vote: 88/100.

Recommended soundtrack: Wolfmother – White unicorn

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