Right away I get my first unexpected delight. The nose is initially perfumey. Then there are notes of boiling sap from trees in a magical forest. But I’m not going to trust this Eddie Haskell move. No, these niceties of smoked jostaberry, tincture of swamp lilies, and metalmaker’s sludge scooped onto a cracker aren’t fooling me for a moment. I’ve seen your game before, Lagavulin 12, and I’m not going to be taken in.
But the mouth then gives me my next delight. This is really, really good. There’s an initially blinding pyrotechnic outburst. I’m seated in the Emperor’s Court in Ancient China rather too close to the blaze, and the heat singes the tiny hairs on my neck. When I open my eyes back up, I see troops partying in a apocalyptic display before I realize that it’s my taste buds I’m able to perceive visibly in this bizarre synaesthetic shift.
The finish is the last surprise and the most profound. For what is on the finish is myself, my own surcease. My ego is opened up like a spatchcocked wren. But with this surrender comes the strange upwelling of tranquility, as Eastern wisdom literature always promised of those who lower the veil of Maya and see the dreamlike impostordom for what it is. Let me make clear what is already obvious. I can say without question that this is my favorite Lag 12 of all time. I want to call it the Essence of Lagavulin. It is as though the characteristic house signature is clarified when it lacks the intermediation of sherry or another four years of aging.
–Our thanks to Diageo for the sample!