Feis Ile 2016 is here and the first open day belongs to Lagavulin distillery. Lagavulin celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2016, one year after Laphroaig & Ardbeg did and they started 2016 with a bang and a new limited release. The limited release is Lagavulin 8 Year Old which was inspired by the visit of Alfred Barnard to the distillery in the 1880s when he tried an ‘exceptionally fine’ eight-year-old from Lagavulin.
It’s quite a large limited edition with 20,000 (some says 30,000) bottles in a higher than usual ABV of 48%. It was a bold move to release such a young release and they deserves a big wave of applauses but too bad there is one blemish: it’s not bottled in its natural color. Yes, there’s additional colorant (caramel) as it was mentioned on the bottles delivered in germany and I find it quite a big disappointment as a lighter color is expected here with sub-ten age statement.
Nose: Hmm, good fresh and fruit nose, feels very mature for its age, sweet gentle peat, fruity and reminds me the new make a lot, oily, honey and lemon. After a while additional smoke shows up with vanilla.
Palate: Oh here comes the peat blast, sweet and ashy, smoke, pears and peaches, lemon, oily and dry smoke.
Finish: Long finish, fruit sweetness and long lasting lingering dry smoke.
Thoughts: Caramel or not, it works brilliantly here. This is a dangerously drinkable whisky which reminds me of the annual 12 Cask Strength version (which I like a lot) with less punch and with less complexity but with added gentleness and accessibility.
Side note: I wonder if the fact that caramel was added means we can expects future batches (and so the caramel will be used to unify the color across the batches) and incorporation of the Lagavulin 8 into the official lineup.