Serge whiskyfun
Thousands of tastings,
all the music,
all the rambligs
and all the fun


Facebook Twitter Logo
Guaranteed ad-free
copyright 2002-2013


Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

December 12, 2013


Young Lagavulin 1979 vs. old 1976

Old Lagavulins are extremely rare, so rare that I've never tried any if my memory serves me well, apart from the official 30 from a few years back. Granted, I've tasted quite a few 'old young ones' but that's something else. As for the prices for the new official 37yo (+/- €2700 at some places at time of writing), they are in line with what's to be seen at other distilleries, which is very, very, and I mean very regrettable, but certainly not illogical. We'll start this little session with another Lagavulin that was distilled in the 1970s as the apéritif, but it's a much younger one. Let's see what happens...

Lagavulin 1979/1992 'Vintage' (43%, Vintage Malt Whisky Co, for Auxil, France)

Lagavulin 1979/1992 'Vintage' (43%, Vintage Malt Whisky Co, for Auxil, France) Five stars This is an early, pre-Finlaggan bottling of Lagavulin by these excellent bottlers who've always had quite some whiskies that were 'furiously Lagavulinian'. I insist, this one has 'Lagavulin' on a sticker, it's not an undercover version. 1979 is the vintage of the famous and brilliant first official Distiller's Edition (WF 92). Colour: white wine. Nose: wet dogs (I'm sorry, dogs) and seawater at first nosing, then a little barley sugar and the smell of tinned sardines in olive oil. It's relatively soft, maybe because of the low strength, rather delicate but frankly coastal. Would rather go one with apple peel and fresh almonds, as well as just wee whiffs of candy sugar that I often found in Lagavulin. It's all a little brighter and less on rubber/tar than, say the official 16s. Mouth: you bet, this is now very tarry! It's actually a very dry, very smoky and very tarry and salty Lagavulin, with also big notes of fresh putty, bitter liquorice, this little rubber, chewing tobacco... That's it, it's almost pure chewing tobacco with a little bitter olive oil. Big stuff. Finish: surprisingly short but quite salty, always with this feeling of putty and liquorice. Salty aftertaste. Comments: I think some OBE 's been going on. Great whisky, only the shortness was a little, ah, eh, short. SGP:266 - 90 points.

Lagavulin 37 yo 1976/2013 (51%, OB, Special Release, 1868 bottles)

Lagavulin 37 yo 1976/2013 (51%, OB, Special Release, 1868 bottles) Five stars No further gibberish, let's try it. Colour: deep gold. Nose: starts with something fragrant, like some perfumes for men that would include incense and sandalwood, as well as more and more vetiver. Certainly some aniseed and dill as well. Then it's rather citrus and liquorice wood, then vin jaune or manzanilla (yes, fresh walnuts), a side that never stops growing over time. It's actually very restless, it never stops changing, which is both fabulous and a drawback if you want to write tasting notes... Aaargh! Also wee touches of paint thinner (high quality paint thinner, of course), creosote, a new box of cigars, various oils and waxes, touches of turpentine, overripe apples, teak oil... Oh and there, it changes again, becoming much more coastal and almost as smoky as a youngster. Bonfire, oysters and such. Phew, this baby really shakes you off!

With water: no huge changes, let's say it became fresher and a wee notch more medicinal. Lemon juice with a few drops of antiseptic. Oh and vetiver, and sandalwood, and seaweed, and... Here we go again! Mouth (neat): the oak feels a bit (astringency) but only for fraction of a second, because lemons, smokes and especially lapsang-souchong tea are soon to come to the rescue. I think we're really in the world of tea here, it's sharing many similarities with an old pu-erh, the soft kind of woodiness (incense once again, sandalwood, 'sweet' cinnamon), the mild fruitiness around kumquats and dried papayas, the earthy smokiness... Then there's some honeydew, lemon pie, a faint camphory touch, certainly some cough syrup 'as always', some black chocolate, oysters, lemon balm... We're experiencing the same phenomenon as on the nose, it keeps changing. Oh, and there are lovely touches of ripe melon. With water: same development as with the nose, let's keep this as short as possible, we're not writing a (poor) novel, are we! Finish: the oak's back and we're rather on black tea and cocoa powder. Dry aftertaste. Comments: this one is extremely difficult to score, since a. it doesn't stop changing and b. the taster can lose his marks, which is a consequence of a. I certainly did sometimes. So a brilliantly challenging whisky, I'd say, it's sometimes almost like playing chess against Kasparov (I imagine). Phew, I think those have been the longest tasting notes I've ever jotted down, apologies. Please take my score with a grain of salt. SGP:365 - 94 points.

(with thanks to the Bar du Nord in Carouge, Switzerland)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Lagavulin I've tasted so far







Whiskfun's Home
Whiskyfun's Facebook page Whiskyfun's Twitter page Whiskyfun's RSS feed