Diageo is about to officially release details of the 15th Annual Special Releases. While Diageo tries to keep things under wraps, United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) regulations require that manufactures file labels in advance for approval for sale in the United States. My friend and fellow blogger Thijs Klaverstijn of the excellent Words of Whisky blog has been diligently following the TTB application process, and you can keep up to date with the rest of us here.
Part of the Diageo annual releases is a 12 year old at cask strength. This expression, together with the Caol Ila Unpeated, are the only ones regularly priced under £100, and are really popular expressions. In fact, the only things you can count on in the annual releases are these two and the Brora and Port Ellen releases. Looking at the 2015 releases, it seems like the Clynelish Select Reserve is about to join the row of annually released expressions.
The other expressions on application so far are a Dalwhinnie 25, Pittyvaich 25, a 34 year old Dailuaine and a 40 year old grain whisky from Caledonian Distillery, closed since 1988. I’m sure some of these expressions will be available for tasting at The Whisky Show in London, and I’ll have tasting notes for whatever can be tasted.
Lagavulin 12, 12th Release, 2012 (56.1% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Straw, slow and thin legs with drops clinging to the glass.
Nose: Wet peat, some young spirit notes (makes you understand why the core expression is a 16), vanilla, confectionery and faint honey. Water brings out more of the honey, light fruity notes and some pound cake.
Palate: Sweet peat, lemony and bitter with notes of sandalwood. The liquid is smooth and predominantly sweet, with some spiciness coming through. Very mouth coating and the whisky makes for a lovely slow sip.
Linger: Peat and bitter lemon with the bitterness remaining long on the tongue. Some pepper remaining while the ashy pear lingers on.
In some families, the younger siblings are the feistier ones, and it’s so in the Lagavulin family. The 12 is the unadulterated, unsherried, cask strength edition. And these two siblings are quite different, with the 16 being sweeter and spicier while the 12 carries a stunning bitter note to perfection.