Lagavulin Distillers Edition

Lagavulin: Distiller’s Edition: 1995 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 16 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Very slow but thick streaks.

Nose: Shortbread. Smoke. Touch of salt. Beef slices. Peat. Blackberry high notes. Sulphur. Gherkins. Orange zest. Water soothes to smoke, beef and cherries.

Body: Smooth. Vanilla toffee. Salt and rocks. Peat rising. Beef slices. Muted Madeira and fruitcake. Raisins. Trifle. Water sweetness and adds custard to trifle while keeping beef slices and salt. Light lemon curd.

Finish: Dried beef. Salt. Malt chocolate. Madeira. Spicy red wine. Sherry.

Conclusion: Of all the distillers editions I have had so far I have found them greatly enjoyable, but strangely sweet dominated for such strong whiskys. This one on the other hand has the sweet cask going up against Lagavulin. This is the big boy of whisky and it is power distilled. You have all of Lagavulin’s hallmarks, all the beef, peat, salt and smoke, and then at that back you get the subtle sweetness. Initially you get fruitcake and Madeira, which grows to more evident trifle and custard with water.

This, of all the great distillers editions, is the only one where the naked spirit can fight on equal terms with the barrel ageing, and it is glorious.

Without water it is full on, complex and raging Lagavulin Islay joy. Smoother than the standard 16 year in texture and burn, but full on in weight and majesty. With water it is more fruity and spiced, sweeter but still rocking the Islay style. There is so many elements that just help round it out so well, and adding so many extra expressive layers to an already full whisky. It becomes not just booming and complex but also smooth and rounded.

This takes what is already one of my favourite whisky and makes it much more refined. The peak of the distiller’s editions and an excellent whisky.

Background: I’ve had this a few times in the past, but never got a chance to review it. This meant that it was for a long time it was the Distillers Edition that got away, long after I reviewed the three others. Bottled in 2011 this has been aged in Pedro Ximenez wood. My previous experience with PX wood has been very good, and Lagavulin is an all time favourite so I was looking forwards to this. I had picked up this bottle half way through last year, and it has been waiting for a good moment to break it open.