Lagavulin 8 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 8 Year: 48% ABV)
Visual: Pale grain with a soft green brackishness.
Viscosity: Very slow, thin to medium thickness streaks.
Nose: Salty sea spray. Strong alcohol. Wet moss. Medicinal air. Water adds salted lemon.
Body: Medicinal. Salt. Strong alcohol. Traditional lemonade. Salty pebbles. Soft yet salted lemon. Water adds a slight golden syrup and more pebbles. More water adds mini marshmallows. Light strawberry and dark chocolate hints. Salted orange.
Finish: Dry. Medicinal spirit. Salted lemon. Dry charred beef bits. More lemon with water. Slight marshmallows. More water adds light malt drinks.
Conclusion: This reminds me in a way of Laphroaig select. A whisky I have not yet done tasting notes on here. So that is a helpful comparison. Let me explain then. They both have less of the distinct brute force that their older cousins have. They both are just slightly dry, but also that lighter character lets additional sweetness through.
For comparisons sake it is helpful that we nicknamed Laphroaig Select “Laphroaig Lemonade” after a whisky show attendant commented that it would be like lemonade for standard Laphroaig fans. Why is that appropriate? Because this younger interpretation, of the Lagavulin spirit has a very salted lemon characteristic to it that makes me think of traditional lemonade.
Do not fear, there is still a heap of Islay character – lots of salt, medicinal notes and wet pebbles and wet moss. Oddly it is missing a few of what I think of as defining Lagavulin characteristics. It lacks any of that thick, meaty character, and also goes very light on the peat smoke, to my surprise. It results in a much less chewy and more drying style to it.
What it gains is, when water is added, a lot of the notes which I presume are normally hidden behind the heavy Lagavulin character. There is subtle salted orange and even strawberry notes – and the extra strength of the whisky means there is a lot of room to explore with water for extra depths.
Don’t expect something too close to the standard Lagavulin 16 year and I think you will probably enjoy this one. It is very much its own thing – distinctly Islay, but not beholden to its older cousin. Initially I was disappointed by this because of my expectations, but I soon grew to enjoy it on its own charms, rather than what I expected it to be like. A very solid, fruity, lemony, Islay whisky.
Background: This one has been a long time coming, much to the annoyance of my mate Tony who had repeatedly asked me when I will pull my thumb out and actually break this one open. Well, today is the day! This is a special limited release to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Lagavulin, and as a huge Lagavulin fan I had to make sure I grabbed a bottle. So I did. From independent spirit. Again.