Happy Feis Ile 2017 everybody! Time to get back to the tradition of reviewing a whisky from the corresponding distillery that holds an open day (after a break last year) and we starts with Lagavulin that holds today their open day (and with a new sparkling Lagavulin 16yo double matured in Muscatel wine casks).
I didn’t need much time to ponder on the whisy to review today and went with the classic choice – the Festival bottling from last year when Lagavulin had their 200th anniversary. An 18 years old Lagavulin from European oak ex-bodega Sherry butts and refill American oak hogsheads.
Lagavulin 18 Year Old Feis Ile 2016 200th Anniversary (49.5%)
Photo credit: maltymates.com
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.
Lagavulin 8 Year Old (200th anniversary) (48%, £52.95/€59,95)
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. Continue reading
After breaking out the news on the forthcoming Lagavulin 8 Year Old, I thought it would be fitting to follow up with a Lagavulin review, especially when I really wanted to drink some Lagavulin after the news broke out and the excitement that rose up following it. And what’s more fitting than reviewing another limited edition Lagavulin which is also a youngster (comparing to the 16 Year old), the Special Releases Lagavulin 12 yo 2015?
This is not the first appearance of Lagavulin 12 on Whisky Gospel, as the 2012 edition was thoroughly reviewed, twice in fact, with the conclusion it’s an awesome Lagavulin, so let’s put the 2015 edition to the test – does it keep up the tradition?
Lagavulin 12 Year Old 2015 (56.8%, £79.95/€107.48)
Nose: First impression: fruity peat. It’s sweet with less of the vanilla and honey (to lesser degree) and with larger focus on fruitiness, pears, apricots, yellow plums, green tree bark, cured meat, deep mellow and soft peat smoke. After a few minutes I’m even getting soursweet tropical fruit juice, tiger balm and menthol. Sweet and earthy, oily and rich, just yummy! Continue reading
Update 2: I have a review up and it’s damn good. read here.
Update: As the Embargo expired last night, more details regarding Lagavulin 8 Year Old are popping up: Indeed it will be bottled at 48% and it was matured primarily in ex-Bourbon casks. It will be available starting at the distillery in late March, European retailers in April and June in USA. Estimated price: £50/€60/$65.
In addition, No further special bottles were confirmed except for the annual Feis Ile, Jazz Festival and Special releases bottles, although they will increase bottles count for Feis Ile bottling this year… 😉
Although we’re only in February, a special event in London was held earlier this month to mark the start of the 200th anniversary celebrations of Lagavulin Distillery. From what was revealed on the internet, they had a taste of a new, special but non Feis Ile bottling which was told to be very good, but no further details were revealed till now due to embargo.
However, a new Lagavulin label was revealed on the American Federal TTB site – a 8 Year Old Lagavulin, presumably bottled at 48%:
While doing the last two posts, I recalled there was one more I wanted to taste. Actually, to re-taste. Back in 2013 I visited Lagavulin and as part of the premium tasting event I tasted the Lagavulin 12 CS (2012 version). You can read all about it here but it was horrible and vile whisky.
I didn’t have time to investigate it on the spot as we were in a hurry to reach another tour, but later I got feedback and remarks that led me to the conclusion it was probably a improper cleaned glass and so I promised myself to revisit it someday, and that day finally arrived now following all those reviews in the last few days.
Thanks to my friend Michael, I got a small sample of this Lagavulin and tasted it again last night. How was it? vile again or a proper Lagavulin?
Lagavulin 12 Year Old (Special Releases 2012) (56.1%, £84.95/€89.95)
Nose: Big peat note, not so smokey but there’s a nice layed down burnt down wood smoke. It’s very sweet & fruity with a touch of lemon. Oily and even had a passing by note of rubber and liquorice. Continue reading
Until a couple of years ago there were only two standard Lagavulin releases: the staple 16yo and the Distillers edition. Then came all those special releases whiskies. We’ve got a semi-official bottling of the 12yo cask strength (in yearly batches) and a couple of truly special Lagavulins: a 37yo and two 21yo bottlings.
But it all started with the 2007 release of the 21yo. Distilled in in 1985, matured in sherry casks and although it didn’t sell out immediately like similar bottlings are doing nowadays, it became a cult success and very sought-after whisky and I believe this provided the required spark to all those special releases that came after it.
Thanks to a friend I’ve got a small tasting of this legendary 21yo so without further words, lets see if it does stand up to its reputation:
Lagavulin 21 year old 1985-2007 release (56.5%, £1,200)
Nose: A very Lagavulin nose at first with sweet and gentle peat & smoke. Then the sherry makes its entrance on stage with gentle and deep yet not too strong sherry sweetness. raisins, berries, prunes and gentle spices. It’s so ingrained and balanced with smoked wood on front, sherry and peat a bit behind. What a WOW combo. Continue reading
This post has been in the works for a while as this whisky was a bit of a roller-coaster experience.
Back in May 2014, a full Feis Ile bottles share was organized by me and a few buddies led by Chris who did all the hard work of going to Islay and collecting them all (Thanks again Chris!). As whisky geeks, we were curious to taste them all but without going bankrupt (as the average bottle price was about £100). By the time I got my share it was almost unanimously agreed upon, by the other shares members and the general whisky community, that the Lagavulin bottling is the best of them all and it even surpassed the 2013 bottling. As I’ve tasted the 2013 one and it was utterly divine, I was eager to try the 2014 one. I tried a full flight on my Feis Ile 2014 bottlings, keeping the Lagavulin and Octomore to the end, but my palate was tired, so by the time I got to the Lagavulin I only wrote general impression:
Nose: Matured and balanced with peat and sherry.
Palate: Peat and sweet sherry.
Basically it felt balanced and lovely. Good combo of peat and sweet sherry. I then decided to keep the rest of my share for another tasting (where I could take proper tasting notes) later that week. Alas, life and other samples intervened and it didn’t happen and that bottle was gathering dust in my cupboard.
Then the Usquebaugh Society Blind Tasting competition happened.
The Lagavulin Feis Ile 2014 was #17 and these are the tasting notes I wrote down:
Lagavulin Feis Ile 2014 (54.7%)
(Blind tasting notes)
Nose: Bites and punchy, honey, fruits, quite heavy. After a minute or two there is peat and then smoke. With even more time it recedes and we get sweet fruity notes, stone fruits, almonds. Continue reading