The Lagavulin 12 Year Old 2018 Special Release opens aggressively with smoked bacon, smoked pork belly, and lightly-charred chunks of cloven ham cubes. But there’s a lush creaminess, too: Kinda like Twinkie™ filling mixed in with white chocolate mousse that’s been topped with crème fraîche. There’s a sense of dryness, like the interior of a kiln, post-firing of raku pottery, pre-cooling and removal. Moreover, I got an antique restorer who works at the MoMA rhythmically stroking a Louis Quatorze étagère with 3000 grit sandpaper.
[Stephen: Bill! the MoMA doesn’t have an antiques restoration specialist!]
[John: Oh yes, they do!]
We also got wickerwork chairs on a porch that were doused with molasses, then set on fire by a trio of impish nephews: Ernie, Hermie, and Bernie. (No relation to Huey, Dewey, and Arsony.) After time, we also got agitated vanilla beans and grizzly bear musk.
The mouth is sticky, gooey, and stretchy like eating burnt marshmallows off of osier spits. It somehow manages to preserve its dignity and remain elegant, which is, for a peat-forward expression, aged at only 12 years, a rather odd thing to encounter. (I asked if maybe Diageo was pranking us, and if it were really a Lagavulin 32, but John and Stephen assured me that I was an idiot.) It’s tarry and smoky, like your eccentric Uncle Irving smoking a Cohiba Behike 56 while standing in the La Brea Tarpits, singing “Hallow” from the hit movie, A Tar is Born. After adding a splash of water, fruitiness emerged in the form of a skinned, charred pineapple held out invitingly by Glinda, the good witch.
The finish is lemony and custardy, but mysteriously fails to be lemon-custardy. It’s long-lasting like the wax on one of Jay Leno’s cars garaged in an undisclosed location in Southern California, and it coats the throat like sealskin still on a seal. That is to say, it’s furry, fatty, and adorable. It has the Lagavulin signature running through it, through and through it in fact, like a specially-branded amusement park with a giant Ferris wheel in Lagavulin World. The finish just keeps on partying in my mouth, back-palate, uvula, and esophagus like a beach barbecue with my best friends–I do have friends, John!–drinking tubs of sangria around burning driftwood, singing old songs accompanied by the infamous Duluth Ukelele Quintet. (Don’t bother googling them; they’re only findable on the Deepest Darkest Web.) The finish, like the rest of the experience, is a perfected, somehow fattened and masterfully carved one-dimensional Inuit “long straw” they used to furtively, unapologetically steal sips of warm grog from unwary anthropologists sitting across the room, taking notes that only other anthropologists could love.
On the scale of things that happens every year, pretty much at the same time, and that last at least a few weeks–
The Lagavulin 12 Year Old 2018 Special Release is late fall (or late autumn, depending on how you’re bent)–What a glorious season! Burning leaves, bonfires, uncorking the peated drams again, it’s pretty much the perfect interregnum ‘twixt summer and winter.
–Our thanks to Diageo for the sample!