Google Four high-strength Lagavulin

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

March 21, 2017


Four high-strength Lagavulin

Three indies and one controversial semi-official, would that do? We’ll have more Lagavulin later this week, if all goes well.

Lg6 (53.7%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2016)

Lg6 (53.7%, Specialty Drinks, Elements of Islay, 2016) Five starsAlways the same question, where do you sneak in any NAS when doing a verticale? Now the very tight and pure Lg5 had been very much to my liking (WF 91), so there’s much hope here… Colour: white wine. Nose: it first smells just like the Port Ellen Maltings when they’re working, and then you get some very vivid notes of lemon, manzanilla, seawater, cigar smoke, and hessian. All that is beautiful and extremely ‘millimetric’ (with apologies to the British Empire). With water: an even bigger feeling of ‘a visit to the PE Maltings’. Wonderful whiffs of bread dough, more hessian, Islay mud… Mouth (neat): starts bigly, quite hot, with the usual almondy and very faintly tarry fruitiness (yellow melons, grapefruits), then jelly babies and a huge smokiness, perhaps ashier than elsewhere in Lagavulinland. Shakes you a wee bit. Very beautiful sour background (cider apples and more manzanilla). With water: smoky barley water mixed with lemon juice. Finish: long, while the almonds are back. Comments: we’re extremely close to the distillate, and yet it’s not mew-make-y at all. I have the impression that this bright youngster is rather less fruity than its predecessors. Totally a fan. SGP:458 - 91 points.

Lagavulin 10 yo ‘Batch 2’ (53.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 239 bottles, 2016)

Lagavulin 10 yo ‘Batch 2’ (53.7%, That Boutique-y Whisky Company, 239 bottles, 2016) Five stars Colour: white wine. Nose: this one’s much sharper, grassier, and more austere and acrid, and makes the Lg6 rather resemble a Lochside 1966 by comparison. More or less. Burning grass, ink, soot, hessian again, tarry ropes… I can’t find one ounce of fruitiness or sweetness in there. With water: fresh tree bark, leaves, paraffin, green tea, engine grease… Mouth (neat): all the fruits that weren’t in the nose are there on the palate! Especially oranges and green pears. Sweets, then more and more salt playing with your lips. Aged on Islay? You never know… Some superbly dry marzipan as well, some salty pepper, a touch of wasabi… All that is very, very impressive. With water: long and fruitier yet. Nectarines and lemon and cream sweets. Finish: long, and magnificently lemony. Comments: a totally gorgeous young Lagavulin, a true competition piece. I’m totally falling for it. SGP:557 - 92 points.

Lagavulin 15 yo 2001/2016 (54.2%, OB, 200th Anniversary, Casks of Distinction, Private Collector Edition, hogshead, cask #9554, 264 bottles)

Lagavulin 15 yo 2001/2016 (54.2%, OB, 200th Anniversary, Casks of Distinction, Private Collector Edition, hogshead, cask #9554, 264 bottles) Four stars and a half One of those intriguing and very speculative official private casks from last year. Welcome to the modern whisky world, where money has no smell (anymore). Colour: pale gold. Nose: very nice, of course, but nowhere near the two sublime youngsters. Some smoked butter, seawater, kelp, Pilsen beer, wet fabric… It’s all relatively soft, despite the high strength. With water: that old jacket after some heavy rain. Mouth (neat): very good, obviously, with some lemon curd and some salty tea (Tibetan style?) as well as plenty of ‘mineral’ citrus, some unexpected mangos, and a little cardboard in the background. A fizzy lemon, somewhere, sometime. With water: becomes a little drying, more tea-ish, with a green tannicity. Now it does not disintegrate, don’t get me wrong. Finish: medium, and rather soft for Lagavulin. Smoky oranges and earl grey tea. Comments: very good, and yet I’m experiencing a mild disappointment. Maybe I just expected too much. SGP:556 - 88 points.

Good. Twenty-five years earlier…

Lagavulin 14 yo 1978/1992 (64.7%, Kingsbury, Japan, bourbon, cask #132)

Lagavulin 14 yo 1978/1992 (64.7%, Kingsbury, Japan, bourbon, cask #132) Five stars Cadenhead have had quite a few 1978s around that time, under various labels including this one by parent company Eaglesome ltd. But watch the very high strength… Colour: pale gold. Nose: this one’s very mineral this time, with a lot of linseed oil as well, graphite, hints of bay leaves, plaster, soot, clay, broken branches… So rocks rather than fruits or seaweed, this time. But remember, almost 65% vol. With water: more iodine for sure, more salty/coastal notes, sea spray, a little mint as well, oysters, eucalyptus… When comparing the modern ones to this one, one feels that Lagavulin got more smoky/ashy, and rather less maritime/camphory/medicinal. Mouth (neat): some fruity sweetness, some flavoured beer, Kriek-like, and some buttered apple cake with a good dose of ginger and slightly prickly pepper. With water: gets much more medicinal. Cough syrup, salt and mint mix, eucalyptus, more seawater, and rather more apples as well, while there’s very little citrus, if any. Totally wonderful, but you have to get the amount of water right. Finish: long, with more salty almonds this time and a wee feeling of paint and plasticine, which works very well. Ashes, and there, lemons! And pineapples! Comments: this baby really took its time but it’s true that it never quite saw this much water. Slow and superb. SGP:557 - 92 points.

(With heartfelt thanks to Emmanuel and KC)

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







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