Re: Ardbeg 17 vs Lagavulin 12
An interesting dilemma, to be sure.
I too love Ardbeg 10 - my "house whisky" for the past 5 years.
Lagavulin 16 was THE whisky that got me into whisky, 8 years ago.
Over the years my appreciation of whiskies has developed, and a large part of this is the appreciation of cask strength whiskies.
Ardbeg 10 is the perfect "everyday" strength, IMO, 46%.
Ardbeg 17 is a fine whisky, and no doubt thought of wistfully by connoisseurs because it is no longer available. I bought a bottle for this very reason two years ago. Of course I enjoyed it. But I can name 3 or 4 Ardbegs, including the 10, that i rate more highly.
The original Lagavulin 12 is an historic beast, @ 43% ABV, which I have never tried, but which is revered and missed, probably more so than the Ardbeg 17, as it is also no longer produced. So if you have a bottle of this on offer, I would take it over the Ardbeg. But I would probably not open it, rather exchange it for several other whiskies,which it would probably buy, including the CURRENT Lagavulin 12, a cask strength "special release", @ approx 57% ABV, released every year over the last few. I have had three, the current 2007 being delightful.
But it is a different beast than the 16, which has a strong sherry influence. It is more raw, more naked, but ultimately more rewarding than the 16, which is "only" 43%.
"Old" 12 or "new" 12, I would go for the Lagavulin. There are greater Ardbegs available for not a lot of money - the 10, the "Beist" and the Uigeadal at 54%, but for me, in my experience the current Lagavulin 12 is a far more rewarding pour than the \ardbeg 17.
but others may disagree!