Thanks to /u/whisky_lads for the sample.
Lagavulin is an interesting distillery from Islay. On paper, I shouldn’t be as big of a fan as I am. They are a mellow distillery. Their main whisky isn’t a peat bomb. It’s sold at a weaker strength, and some would point out that it’s not as complex as others.
The 12 is a favourite, but it’s a cask strength Islay… so quel surprise, I enjoyed it. My bias is showing.
The DE isn’t a favourite, however that follows my pattern of not being the biggest DE fan (save Caol Ila).
And it’s quite difficult to have an IB of Lagavulin, as they’ll have different names on them. Which annoys me.
However the 16 is my go-to at a bar where the whisky list hits the Canadian average of 6. I’ll sit back and defend it as my favourite (in that circumstance), and enjoy watching non-whisky drinkers wonder why I love the smell of burnt tires.
Suffice to say, when I was able to try Lagavulin 1995 – Feis Ile 2014, I was giddy as a school girl. It’s a 19 year old, cask strength, sherry matured only (versus the standard 16 which is ex-bourbon only, and the DE, which is finished in PX casks), and… oh, did I mention cask strength?
Thus you have my bias going into this. I don’t make the money necessary to visit Islay during Feis Ile, so this is a treat. Let’s see if it lets me down.
Price: No longer available
Distillation Date: 30 Jan 1995
Bottling Date: 01 Jan 2014
Cask Type: Sherry butts
Total amount of bottles: 3,500
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Campfire, cranberry, smoked caramel, lime mojito, carrot juice, tart pear, almond cookie
Big nose on this one. Almost smells like a lost Laphroaig at first, then reminds you who the fuck it is and gives you big earthy notes.
Lots of fruit on the nose. It’s not super juicy (like me) but more the smell you get when you bake an upside down cake. That dry sorta fruit nose.
Taste: Ash, brown sugar, lime zest, caramel, anise, blueberry, aloe, hot apple cider
Big ash note at first. Brave through it, it’ll take awhile. And awhile. Like a lot of CS Islay, you need to give this time.
I mean, give all whiskies time, but give this one more, dammit.
Wonderful mix of spice, blueberry, and a cider note that makes this a good winter dram. That was released in the summer.
But hey, who actually opened theirs, right?
Finish: Butter, BBQ sauce, brine, peanut, molasses, pear, smoked fish, Tabasco sauce
Smoke. BBQ. Smoke. Do you need any more incentive? It does smoke a lot. Brine too, which mixes.
Now, I’m a peat head, so I have to calm myself here. I like this. But I’m not going to blow smoke up your collective asses (unless it’s Wednesday) and say it’s complex. It’s just a lot of smoke. Some interesting BBQ notes, which in and of themselves are complex, but it’s smoke based for the majority of time.
Conclusion: A great, interesting nose, a nice taste, and a… really smoky finish. Which is cool, it also has salt in there.
Look, it’s not going to blow your mind there and back again. But what it does do is show what 19 years and cask strength can do to Lagavulin. The finish is long, but simple. The taste and nose are great. It’s worth trying, even if you’re not a fan.
Scotch review #574, Islay reviews #129, Whisky Network review #960