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

August 25, 2021


The Ultimate Sessions, today Lagavulin

There are quite a few 'Secret Islays' that should be Lagavulin around, including some that would give you good clues about what they actually are, but I'd rather have a recent batch of the very popular official 16 as the sparring-partner. Honour where honour is due.


Lagavulin 16 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2021)

Lagavulin 16 yo (43%, OB, +/- 2021) Five stars
Some good friends would claim that the 16 is going down but to be honest, I've always heard that and last time I tried it (it was a +/-2019) I enjoyed it rather a lot. The very early 'Classic Malts' were rather superior indeed in my book (late 1980s, early 1990s) but since those glorious days, things have remained relatively consistent. We'll do this quickly. Colour: gold. Nose: impeccably tarry and rubbery, with this feeling of unpacking a new scuba diving suit (I've seen some would say a new SM outfit but I'm lacking experience). Then oranges and walnuts from the sherry, seawater, dried kelp, black olive brine, lapsang souchong and lit cigar. I find this impeccable and very, guess what, 'Lagavulin 16'. Mouth: absolutely excellent. Bright and rich, tarry, with excellent sherriness, liquorice, salt, olives, marmalade… It's even got something refreshing. Finish: smoke and olives, touches of curry and cardamom. Perfect. Comments: Lagavulin 16 is my go-to malt whenever I'm at a restaurant or a bar that's not a 'whisky bar'. I think I'll maintain that tradition. An exquisite batch, perhaps a little less 'sweet' than earlier recent offerings. BFYB.
SGP:467 - 90 points.

Lagavulin 28 yo 1992/2021 (47.7%, OB, Prima & Ultima, 1081 bottles)

Lagavulin 28 yo 1992/2021 (47.7%, OB, Prima & Ultima, 1081 bottles) Five stars
Is it even possible that a 1992 would be 28 years old? Wasn't 1992 only yesterday? This one was entirely matured on Islay and spent its whole life in fresh-charred American oak hogsheads, something that was rather experimental back then as the gospel was rather to first season casks that were very active, including first fill ex-bourbon if I remember well, with cheaper grain whisky before filling them with precious malt. How things have changed! Colour: light gold. Nose: it is fascinating to nose this after the 16, which was smokier and 'peatier' for sure. This 1992 is almost fresher in fact, tarter, more on lime and pink grapefruits, perhaps even maracuja, also almond paste, olive oil, linseed oil and orgeat. A tiny bit of plasticine but no big whiffs of peat this time. Having said that, not unlike other older peaters, it would also welcome rather a lot of camphor, embrocations, iodine… And oysters! I'm not sure I wouldn't have said 30 yo Caol Ila. Mouth: essences from the wood come out, thyme, menthol, pine resin, even a touch of turpentine, while it would then become extremely salty and 'coastal', possibly tighter and fresher than similar vintages but without a lot of peat. This feeling of having swallowed a little seawater while swimming in the sea isn't unpleasant, neither is the growing camphory side. It would then become a little softer, with some waxy citrus, also with the trademark tarry and rubbery smokiness. Finish: long, a tad acrid and gritty perhaps. Oak spices in the aftertaste, cinnamon mints, ginger, turmeric… Comments: excellent, naturally, but that recent batch of the humbler 16 was just perfect and so the competition has been very fierce. We decide it was a tie.
SGP:466 - 90 points.

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