May 30, 2014

Battle of the Beasts Part 1: Lagavulin 12-Year

Battle of the Beasts Part 1

Yesterday we kicked off our Battle of the Beasts showdown between our favorite big bad peaty malts.  For the next four days we'll be reviewing each of the selections, and then for the finale we'll show the votes of how they all stacked up on taste and smokiness.  

Contender #1: Lagavulin 12- Year

Tasting notes

Nose: Smoke floats right to the top.  It's a very fresh peat smoke, like taking pounds of the dark damp vegetal stuff and throwing it on smoldering campfire stones.  Once the peat has singed your nose and you've adjusted your internal peat-ometer accordingly, some of the other aromas start to come through.  cocoa beans, vanilla cream, sugared lemons, sea air, peanut butter, some medicinal / phenol angles on the peat, green grapes or apples, and some fresh green leaves (jade?).

Palate:  What a body on this one!  It's thick and oily and creamy.  Just absolutely lovely, waking up far corners of the taste buds with heavy cream, sweet lemon meringue pie, lots of spirit warmth, some old leather, wood, and nuts.

Finish:  Wow, what a magnificent beast.  The smoke comes right at the throat in the finish but it balances out against the high alcohol content wonderfully.  It then just rests right there under your soft palate smoldering for several minutes before turning into a little eau de cologne hovering on your breath.

We've really come full circle on this one.  We weren't prepared for it the first time, but now we're old friends and this is a definite favorite!

Guest Judge Comments

"Pale citrus, rich peat, lemon, creamy.  Kilchoman?"
"Vanilla, ginger, smoke."
"Nose: Vegetal, grilled peppers and zucchini, agave. Reminds me of a reposado tequila or mezcal.  Palate- viscous, lots of heat, peppery spice, intense.  Finish - intense up front, lots of mint then smoke developed as it wound down.  Honestly with the nose, body and flavor if no one told me what it was I'd think I'd have a really interesting & solid tequila."

-- We gave it another sniff and it definitely does have that agave / tequila thing going on.  Would never have thought of that but it's true!


  1. Great write up, Steven. I love love love this whisky! The '13 release is probably one of my favorites of the 12yo CS, too. Killer stuff.

    1. Thanks! It is great stuff. Right now I've got '02, 9,10,11,12,13 sitting here. Maybe I should try to collect some samples and do the whole vertical. But I feel like they're not quite different enough for that to be an interesting read...