ABV: 56.1% (cask strength)
Michigan State Minimum: $120 (I bought it when the price was $90)
Appearance: Pale gold.
Nose: Peat, smoke, dried flowers, alcohol. Softens up a bit with water, but the peat is still front and center.
On the palate: Full bodied and aggressive. Burn, smoke, peat. Sweeter and more balanced with water. Butterscotch candy, fireplace, peat, amaretto.
Finish: campfire smoke, vanilla custard, burn. With water I get hardwood ash, vanilla pudding, and burn.
Parting words: Lagavulin 16 y/o (reviewed here) is still my favorite single malt Scotch, but this one has come very close. It’s not nearly as refined as its older sister but it has a powerful smokiness that rivals Laphroaig or Ardbeg. I’m getting into Malt Imposter territory here, but if Lagavulin were the Clash, the 16 year old would be London Calling and the 12 year old cask strength would be The Clash. The former is more polished and complex, but the latter has an urgency and power that is compelling.
The state minimum price in Michigan unfortunately went up by $30 recently so it is much less of a value than it used to be. Still, it’s a wonderful, delicious whisky worth trying and buying if it fits into your budget. I love and recommend Lagavulin 12 y/o Limited Edition 2012, Cask Strength.