A new discovery to this whisky that mark to celebrate an incredible 200 years of producing Lagavulin, with its timeless quality and the wonderful whiskies still being made today through the passion and hard work of the Isle folks from peat cutters to warehousemen. Got this opportunity to taste this amazing whisky at Black Box, Publika.
The origins of Lagavulin
Some history of this brand before we head more into the profile. Local records suggest that Lagavulin was already a centre of whisky production in the early 18th century.
So there had almost certainly been many other illicit stills before John Johnston founded the ﬁrst legal distillery at Lagavulin Bay in 1816. As with all Scottish distilleries, it passed through the hands of different owners, including the celebrated Sir Peter Mackie, whose company became White Horse Distillers, forever associated with Lagavulin. White Horse joined The Distillers Company Ltd. (eventually Diageo) in 1927. In 1989, Lagavulin, now normally bottled at 16 years rather than the original 12, became one of the six Classic Malts of Scotland™.
In this showcase, marks the Lagavulin 25 Year Old, a first 100% sherry matured liquid is also released to recognize and celebrate the contribution of 12 distillery managers. The bicentenary limited edition, which is bottled at cask strength and limited to 8000 individually numbered bottles worldwide, is also one of the oldest liquids from the distillery that is magnificently full-on in flavour.
Right before the start of the event, we were introduce to the special mix of using this classic whisky into modern cocktail drink.
Lagavulin 8 Year Old
Nose: Immediately quite soft with clean, fresh notes, faint hints of milk chocolate and lemon and then developing fragrant tea-scented smoke alongside nose-drying, maritime aromas, with subtle cereal. A prickliness seen earlier now develops, while the trademark Lagavulin dryness emerges as fresh newsprint. Softly sooty. Softer, fuller and more rounded with water: it’s not hugely fruity but there’s just a trace of red berry preserve, perhaps, beneath the smokiness, which comes sharply into focus.
Body: Light, growing pleasantly oily.
Palate: A soothing light texture, with a magnificently full on Lagavulin taste that’s somehow even bigger than you expect; sweet, smoky and warming, with a growing, smoky pungency, then dry, with more smoke. Charred, with minty, dark chocolate. Beautifully balanced mid-palate then salty, oven-charred baked potato skins and smoke. Water rounds things, the taste still mighty yet more succulent, sweeter, spicier and now tongue-tingling, mint-fresh and warming.
Finish: Lovely; clean, very long and smoky. Smoothly, subtle minted smoke surrounds chocolate tannins, leaving a late drying note to emerge in time. It’s warming, soft and still smoky with water, not as long or intense now, yet still leaving the palate dry as sweet smoke lingers on the breath.
Then we head into the special design room for a proper whisky tasting with explanation of the ambassador and master distillery.
Lagavulin 25 Year Old
Nose: Profound, complex and dry overall. Rich yet elusive, it really takes time to open up, first offering liquid dried fruits; figs, dates or prunes, a trace of treacle toffee with almost no sweetness and a distant faintly medicinal note of wood polish, which takes on char and smoke, as with a fine old oak chest left too close to a roaring fire. Gradually you make out jammy notes with roasted meats and honey; even, a raspberry coulis. Finally, there are clean ripe red apples, mint and, in time, a whiff of sealing wax. Water brings up soft toffee and milk chocolate, sweet marzipan over sour cherries, cold smoke, burnt timbers and pine resin.
Body: Medium-rich, coating.
Palate: A voluptuous, oily texture, with a bitter-sweet and gingery, slightly drying start. Intense, with masses of charred wood, oak-smoked meats, honey, burnt treacle tart and ash. Then, refreshing spearmint. Salty, then sweet, with water; gentle peat and spearmint. Now it’s soft, comforting and relaxed.
Finish: Long, smooth, sweetly honeyed and elegant, with slowly rising fragrant wood smoke, ash, salt and a subtle, chilli like heat; followed by cooling eucalyptus. Finally, oily and bittersweet, with burnt orange peel, all of it lingering deliciously. Softer with water, which brings a late, quiet pungency.
This is indeed a strong finishing and very smooth. Certainly it has it craft price for such a quality bottle. It is indeed the best series if you like strong, oakey, smooth finishing.
Lagavulin 12 year old
Nose: A typically full-on Lagavulin nose that also shows great finesse, with less ripe fruit than earlier bottlings. Bergamot scented wood-smoke surrounds a sophisticated complex of sweeter aromas; smooth and creamy toffee sauce on digestive biscuits with shavings of milk chocolate. Later, appetising lemon and white pepper notes. With water, the aromas embrace toasted cereal and take on a roasted, nutty quality but the fragrant smoke always returns.
Palate: Dusty, very sweet, and positively smoky, as with roasted chestnuts from a street vendor on a winter’s morning; or a real-wood fired pizza with fresh pesto and pine kernels. Leaves the tongue tingling. Cleaner with water, which brings a smooth mouth feel and sophisticated smoke.
Finish: Long and smoky, with large amounts of exquisite smoke and a fragrant smoky aftertaste. Toasted sesame seeds and basil. Water brings out Indian spices (roasted cumin).
Lagavulin 16 year old
Nose: Intense peat smoke with iodine and seaweed and a rich, deep sweetness.
Palate: A rich, dried fruit sweetness with clouds of smoke and strong, barley-malt flavours, warming and intense. At the back of the mouth is an explosion of peppery smoke.
Finish: Huge, long, warming and peppery with a distinct appetising sweetness.
We are all the lucky winners to walk away with the putting challenge. All of us got a 16 years old bottle. Woot Woot.!
With Rajesh Joshi, Marketing Director of Möet Hennessy Diageo Malaysia, Diageo brands.