Tag Archive: Lagavulin


Game Of Throne: House Lannister: Lagavulin: 9 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 9 Year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Medium darkened gold. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Smoked fish skins. Peaty. Smoked beef. Lightly medicinal and salty. Dried beef slices. Slight brown sugar. Brown bread. Slight golden syrup. Similar with water.

Body: Smooth and warming. Slight charring. Brown bread. Salt. Dried beef slices. Alcohol is more present if held. Chocolate. Cherries. Water makes more bready. Some white and red grapes.

Finish: Chocolate. Slightly dry. Soot. Dust-balls. Dried beef. Slight cherries. Lightly medicinal. Light sherry touch. Water adds slight sulphur and malt drinks. Slight peanut butter.

Conclusion: Man this is good. Though, as is nigh always true these days, I am glad I gave it a few weeks to air after opening before doing notes. The first few drams I had of it were good but very much sub the quality expected from a Lagavulin compared to the standard 16 year expression. Now, this still doesn’t reach the heights of that night perfect dram, but now definitely earning its place in the line up.

It has the dried meat, slight smoky, lightly medicinal Lagavulin character and is fairly smoothly delivered despite the traditional 46% abv alcohol bump.

What makes it stand out on its own, rather than as a lesser imitation of the 16 is the slight bit more presence from the sweeter notes. There’s sweet cherry, brown sugar and even some chocolate notes which was very unexpected for an Islay. It is only slightly sweeter but that gives more contrast and a slightly easier going style despite all the Islay notes. In some ways it feels close to the Distillers edition in that use of sweetness, if not quite as awesome.

Water smooths it even more, but also generally mutes things a bit, so I would recommend taking this one neat. Still, generally very nice – the only thing that keeps it from being up there with the best is a slightly more neutral, malt drink like middle that doesn’t express itself as well as either the peatier or the smokier notes. Later on, with water, there was even a mild peanut butter like note which wasn’t horrible, but similarly did not quite work.

Still a bloody good whisky, and the sweeter side of Lagavulin.

Background: So, Game of Thrones is still stupidly popular right? Nothing happened in the final season to put people off. This tasting notes is still relevant and hip right? Anyway, totally had to grab this one – Lagavulin is probably my favourite distillery, so a nine year expression of it, brand new for the GOT line, definitely caught my eye. Not terribly priced either all things considered. I put off opening it for a while as I had a few Islay bottles already open, but finally its time has come! Went back to New Model Army – The Ghost Of Cain for music for this, my music taste continues towards the more political again in these strange times. Yet another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Lagavulin: Feis Ile 2018: 18 Year ( Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 18 Year: 53.9% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold. Slow thin streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Smoke. Peat. Soft champagne. White grapes. Beef broth. Cherry pocked digestives. Dry black liquorice smoke. Burnt rubber. Salt touch. Menthol liqueur. Sulphur. Water adds very light aniseed. Slightly more evident alcohol. Dry white grapes.

Body: Smooth. Dry. White wine. Light white chocolate. Oaken. Water adds cake sponge. Smoke. Soft lime. Dried beef and beef crisp dusting. More white chocolate. Toffee. Soft cherry.

Finish: Dry oak. Smoke. Alcohol air. Dried beef. Champagne. White grapes. Water adds pepper. Vanilla. Thai seven spice. Malt toffee. Cherry pocked biscuits. Beef crisp dust. White chocolate. More water adds vanilla and soft apricot.

Conclusion: Ok, let us start with how this is different to my usual Lagavulin expectation, via what those expectations are. So, my expectations for Lagavulin are that it will be big, meaty, peaty, weighty and complex.

This is drier, but does not feel lighter with that. Instead it emphasises what taste more like white wine, clean notes. Instead of heavy peat it feels more the dry smoke side of things, similarly dried meat instead of chewy slabs. There is room for subtle fruit notes to come out. It is still Lagavulin but restrained in how it punches out the notes. Still Islay, still big, but the heavier Islay meaty, medicinal, peat and salt notes feel calmed compared to the younger 16 year. It is a take that took me a short while to get used to.

Without water it suffers from being too much on the dry side, which alongside the ..ok, not lighter …brighter? Cleaner? Any which way, the different flavours seem to suffer in the higher alcohol environment. Ok, but overly oaken and the dryness makes it seem harsh.

So, yes, water play is definitely needed for this one. With water the smoke is still less peaty, and the beef still is dry, but the white wine notes rise to become slightly yeasty Belgian beer influenced and fuller champagne notes. The other elements have more room to roam and softer, with subtle red fruit coming out around the edges.

Grapes and soft fruit, across light salt hints now match the dry, smoke, dried meet and champagne. Still Lagavulin but a fascinating different take. Fascinating thought it is, I will have to admit. Lagavulin 16 and Distillers Edition are both better and cheaper. Then again those two whiskies are masterclasses in how to do a good Islay. This feels like an interesting alternate universe take. So, get the 16 and Distillers Edition first, if they are to your taste, and you have money to spare, this is an interesting one.

I love seeing what can be done with the spirit in this one, but it just makes it different, definitely not better. That is not to say this is bad – I have yet to encounter a bad whisky from this distillery – but it is not up with their usual amazing high quality. Still a fun one to dissect.

Background: I fought with myself so much over if I should get this. I genuinely love Lagavulin. Probably my favourite distillery, and one that has a relevantly restrained number of releases. Thus, a nice 18 year old release, especial a limited release that I would normally have to travel to the Feis Ile Islay festival to get, caught my eye. On the other hand it was just a tad expensive for an 18 year of whisky, mainly due to people having to head to Islay for that festival to grab it. As you can tell I eventually weakened and bought it. Otherwise this set of tasting notes would be admission of stealing. Grabbed from Independent Spirit ,this has been aged in Refill American oak hogsheads, Rejuvenated American Oak hogsheads and Bodega European Oak butts. This is bottle 4199 of 6000 bottles. I put on Akala – Knowledge Is Power 2 while drinking. I freaking love Akala, such a wordsmith and cutting in his political critique in his raps.

Lagavulin 8 Year

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.

Cooper's Choice Laggan Mill Cask 7977

Cooper’s Choice: Laggan Mill: Cask 7977 (Scottish Islay Single Cask Malt Whisky: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very clear with a slight brackish tinge. Becomes very hazy with water.

Viscosity: Fast medium sized streaks.

Nose: Salt spray water. Paint pots. Wet moss. Oily. Chargrilled beef. Smoke. Rock Salts. Granite. More rocks with water.

Body: Lime sours. High alcohol. Golden syrup and custard. Beef broth. Yorkshire puddings. Blueberry and blackcurrant – slightly jammy. Smoother with water but still full bodied. More custard. Strawberry. Soft salted lemon juice.

Finish: Blueberry. Vodka. Lime jelly. Toffee. Honey. Peat and smoked beef slices. Water makes like vodka jelly mixed with custard notes. Brings out pepper, barley biscuits and malt chocolate.

Conclusion: Damn, this is nigh clear to the eye, but intense to the tongue. As mentioned in the Background I am certain this is a Lagavulin, but for that it is surprisingly fruity, while still having that lovely smoked broth character in full show.

As can be expected of a 46% abv whisky it is slightly alcohol led, but the basis of this strong Islay whisky is still easy to see. There is still those beef and peat notes but laid over a mix of toffee, custard and golden syrup in the base. I presume this was a bourbon barrel cask aged spirit and it seems much cleaner than most Lagavulin I have encountered, making it more of a shining bright and raw experience.

Maybe this is a younger expression as well than the usual 16 year old – it seems to allow more of the base spirit character show – with water however the alcohol gets toned down and you get this lovely mix of bright spirit against Islay rocks, peat and salt experience. The younger character seems to allow salted lemon to mix with sweet dark fruit in the middle, very juicy feeling and a real contrast to the harsh Islay style.

This makes for a less balanced expression that the 16 year official bottling, but it also means that this is worth trying as its own thing. You feel like you are getting another side of the Laguvulin spirit here.

Not quite as good as the 16 year or the distillers edition, but then again, Lagavulin is one of the jewels in the whisky crown. This is still awesome Lagavulin, which means awesome whisky, period.

Background: Bottled 2015, I don’t have an age statement for this one as I can’t find any indication of the distillation date. I have it on good authority that Laggan Mill is in fact, duh, duh, duh, Lagavulin as the distillery will not allow people to use their name on independent bottlings most of the time. I adore Lagavulin so this was a must grab when I found it at Independent Spirit. Anyway this is a single cask Hogshead, and one of 330 bottles. Drunk while listening to some Crossfaith – absolutely awesome band to see live if you get the chance.

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.

Lagavulin 16 Year (Islay Single malt Scottish whisky: 16 Years Old: 43% ABV)

Visual: Dark orange amber.

Viscosity: Fast forming thin streaks.

Nose: Roast beef, tobacco, salt and a touch of peat. Ginger bread. Dry dust sugar.

Body: Sweet front that melts into rocky cliffs and sea salt. Burnt notes and honeyed syrup. Light vanilla and then finally toffee seeps through. Little alcohol fire for such a potent whisky.

Finish: Full bore smoke finish, bitter and salty. Anchovies. Lots of sea breeze.

Conclusion: A truly complex Islay whisky – full bore smoke and rockiness with a salt character as expected, but it rounds out with fantastic complexity.

Probably my favourite of the Islay whiskys, forceful but with modest alcohol influence. This should be pride of place in any whisky fans collection.

Surprisingly smooth, the punch is all in the smoke and flavour, not in cheap spirit fire.

Fantastic on its own or complemented cooked meats, very little should overpower this beasts flavour.

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