Lagavulin Distillery Bottlings Tasting Notes

Posted: September 8, 2011 in Lagavulin, Scotch Whisky A-G

Lagavulin 8 year old 200th Anniversary 48%

Tasted: Apr 2016

Nose: Pungent and medicinal aromas with loads of sweet barley and hints of acacia honey beneath. A touch of fresh pine needles, white fruit, subtle salt and dusty peat smoke emerges with time.

Palate: Opens with the sweet barley, white fruit and creamy/ milky oak. Sweet peat, loam and coffee notes follow. It darkens on the middle as the malt arrives and dries as the rock salt notes kick in.

Finish: Long and salty with lingering iodine enhanced crisp white fruit along with that pine needle freshness.

Conclusion: A lovely Islay. Not overblown peat wise or one-dimensional, just very well balanced and seriously salty!

Lagavulin 12 year old 56.4%

Tasted: Nov 2007

Actually quite a delicate nose. Almost shy! Once it opens up there is a myriad ofaromas – slightly medicinal peat, pure tobacco leaf, ferns/ bracken and a very distinct note of pine needles. The graceful smoke wafts in with the coastal nuances. Nowhere near as powerfully peaty as the 16 yearold.

Oily and nicely fruity on the palate. Lovely purity of subtle orange, elusive peat, fern/ bracken and pine needles. Late peat smoke lazily drifts in. Very, very long with oodles of coastal character and although the peat is delicate and farfrom booming it slowly fills the mouth! A drop of water emphasises the salinity whilst on the palate it emphasises the oils, the fruit and the wood tannins. The refinedIslay!

Lagavulin 12 year old 56.5%

Btl: 2010/ Tasted: Sept 2011

A crisp and phenolic nose with plenty of mentholated, briny peat. It displays a lovely depth with some beautifully sweet barley balancing the stringent peat reek. Quite oily and dense with hints of soft yellow fruits and banana.

The palate is full and intense. The peat builds pleasantly to a sooty, coal dusty middle. The extremely piquant alcohol kicks in on the middle! Add to that the rampant coastal character and you have a seriously mouth-puckering finish. It’s a complete contrast to the last bottle of cask strength 12 year old I tasted, that bottling was really subtle, especially compared to this one, which is what I love about small batch cask strength bottling, you just never know exactly what you are going to get. Anyway this wild ride draws to a close with hints of menthol, iodine, cocoa and a sliver of sweet barley lighting up the finish. Stunning stuff!

With water the nose has become a tad muted as the natural oils are released. The peat has taken on a more manuery character, but some sweet orange notes have now emerged. Obviously it is a touch softer on the palate with more tarry wood notes prevalent. The peat has become lazy and sooty and meanders across the tongue beautifully. Still mouth tingly fresh and briny with hints of shellfish and a sweetparmaviolet note in the finish.

Lagavulin 12 Years Old 57.5%

Btl: 2011 /Tasted: Feb 2012

A leafy, herbal and briny nose with hints of sweet barley and gentle coastal peat. Given time the aromas become icing sugar sprinkled and a slight medicinal note emerges. Quite gentle and reserved. Diluted it is less complex but some lovely luscious citrus emerges.

The palate is slightly oily, opening with some gentle white fruit with a touch of vanilla oak. Alcohol dominated with some herbal peat. With water the palate is a tad vague but still quite sugary. The peat finally comes rushing through and finishes with a seriously mouth-watering coastal finish. With water more herbal, bog myrtle notes appear. Conclusion: Wonderfully intense when neat although it becomes a tad vague diluted.

Lagavulin 12 year old (2012 Bottling) 56.1%

Dist: 2000 Btl: 2012/ Tasted: Dec 2012

A fresh nose of ozone and brine. Wonderfully phenolic and full of oily barley, apricot, white fruit and crystallised orange. Lightly herbal with a leafy/nettle character followed by a touch of sooty/ tarry peat and dunnage.

The palate is quite soft to begin with, opening with the barley and fleshy fruit – lightly oiled apricot and white fruit. Hints of Arbroath smokies, soot and peat dust follow along with some beautiful building oils. The middle is wonderfully fresh with a Sauvignon Blanc-esque herbal note and some coastal notes. Very long with a sooty/salty finish.

With water the nose becomes softer with more of an emphasis on the white flower notes which develop a musky perfume. Gently earthy but very slightly soapy. The palate, just like the 2011 bottling is a little vague, and quite chalky with some crystallised and parma violet coming through. Less intense in the peat department but still pleasantly oily.

Lagavulin 16 year old 43%

Tasted: June 2004

A powerfully peaty nose, yet underneath is a very complex malt. Smoked kippers, sherried orange fruit, earth, malt, a slight toffee ness and a sprinkling of sea air. Smooth, rich and. full bodied with a nice oiliness. Pungently peaty, long and intense with tangy fruit on the middle and the peat returning on the finish.

Lagavulin 16 year old 43%

Tasted Apr 2010

A lovely, soft and mature nose, opening with distinctive sherry cask dried fruits, walnuts and sugarcoated orange peel, followed by smoke, slightly medicinal peat, bog myrtle and fern/ bracken notes. Over time an almost perfumed blood orange note appears as does the trade mark salted kippers. Superb complexity.

The palate open with the creamy American oak followed by gentle brine and peat smoke, building to a softly-intense leafy/ bog myrtle peated middle. The sherried dried fruits lurk in the background creating a hearty background for the mature orange fruit, smoked kippers, saline and peat to accentuate. Wonderfully gentle, yet robust and persistent. Finishing with a hint of Bowmore/Ardbeg-esqueparmaviolets and the nutty dried fruit notes lingering.

Lagavulin 16 Years Old 43%

Tasted: Feb 2012

A lovely mature, slightly tropical, flambéed banana and refill sherry wood nose. Lightly toffee’d with some gentle, old peat and vegetation. Slightly medicinal with alcohol soaked bandages.

The palate is full of wonderfully Demerara sugar coated mature fruit. Gentle and mellow with a slight coastal character and gentle, mature peat. Finish: Long and subtle with no shortage of salty herbal notes and a touch of green wood in the finish. Conclusion: A lovely mature Islay.

Lagavulin 16 year old 43%

Re- Tasted: Feb 2013

The nose is slightly lighter on the grape, thus showing more smoke, coffee, and slightly crisp barley. Gently tarry and phenolic more a good briny intensity. The barley develops a lovely sweet sheen and an embracing sootiness. In my opinion less sherry = better balance.

Lightly oiled on the palate and very sooty. Like the nose it’s subtly sherried and allows the sooty peat notes unfettered access to the tongue! Pleasantly fruity with hints of orange and tangerine, coated with a light fish oil and impregnated with some lovely spices. The sherry sweetness comes through on the middle and does offer up a slightly confected note but it’s back to coal/ peat dust and finishing with a slightly herbal nuance.

Lagavulin 16 year old 43%

Re-Tasted: Sept 2015

This is the third time I have tasted the 16 year old this year and on the previous two occasions I have been somewhat underwhelmed and I think the problem is down to the use of caramel which has flattened and bittered this once majestic malt. The nose of this bottling wasn’t too bad with more of the usual thick treacle, subtle earthy peat and hints of marmalade orange. A touch of fragrant barley could be discerned along with hints of herbs and burnt wood.

The palate began optimistically with the thick treacle, tar and sherry. Gently peated with earth, coffee and burnt wood. Although the finish had a lip smacking coastalness and some chocolaty tannins it was still pretty bitter, which would seem to imply that caramel was still being used.

Lagavulin 16 year old 43%

Re-Tasted: Feb 2016

Nose: Soft, windswept aromas with gentle peat and subtle sherrywood notes. Possibly a little soapy with a touch of building violets and vanilla. With time the sherry notes really sweeten.

Palate: A lovely, soft, silky mouthful of dried fruit and subtle sherry. Lightly earthy and peaty with a developing coastal character. Given the lightness of the sherry a touch of almost estery fruit can be discerned.

Finish: Long and oily with lingering dusty peat and refreshing salty citrus combining with a touch of mocha.

Conclusion: The nose lets it down.

Lagavulin 1991 (16 year old) Distillers Edition 43%

Pedro Ximenez Finish/ Dist: 1991 Btl: 2008/Tasted: Dec 2008

A big, rich and very sweet nose, tempered by sea spray, peat, tar and beeswax. Very syrupy on the palate, almost overwhelmingly sweet with the smoky medicinal peat and seaweed flavours breaking through. Definitely distinctive, but a bit too sweet for me!

Lagavulin 1994 (16 year old) Distillers Edition 43% 

Pedro Ximenez Finish – LGV.4/498

Dist: 1994 Btl: 2010/ Tasted: Oct 2011

A big, sweet, dried grape and toffee’d molasses nose. The cask definitely holds back the ‘Vulin character but some stinky, manurey peat begins to emerge as does some coastal notes but the PX cask has it clamped in a vice-like grip.

The palate is to me not as sweet as I remember it, but that was 3 years ago. There is a profusion of dried grape, raisinated fruit along with chocolate and coffee. Like the nose the distillery character has been seriously blunted although it kind of creeps out on the finish with a touch of sooty peat. Not exactly my favourite expression, but there is no denying the quality of both cask and spirit.

Lagavulin 1996 (16 year old) Distillers Edition 43%

Pedro Ximenez finish/ Code: Lgv.4/500

Dist: 1996 Btl: 2012/ Tasted: Nov 2013

The nose is sweet and treacly with crystallised orange and burnt coffee. Some lightly medicinal peat lurks under the weight of the sherry finish. With time the aromas become quite perfumed with some dusty violets and earthy peat emerging but the cask as they say is king!

The palate is full, treacly and a little flat. Where’s the peat? It’s well and truly buried under the weight of raisins, toffee and walnut sherry notes. Hints of crystallised orange, burnt wood, dusty violets and a touch of herbal/medicinal peat eventually come through on the finish but the cask is holding firm. The peat does becomes pleasantly dusty on the after-taste however.

Lagavulin 1977 (25 year old) 57.2%

Dist: 1977 Btl: 2002/ Tasted: 2005

Clean, deep and very complex, unmistakably Lagavulin, full of rich matured sherry, sweet peat, Islay fauna and flora, animals, smoke, spice and a touch of orange fruit – Stunning with a crisp, fresh edge to it.

Soft, dry and rounded on the palate. The peat gently builds, followed by sherry fruit which lusciously coats the mouth, coal smoke and iodine. This has power and maturity. Water brings out the fauna and orange on the nose, and makes the palate purr! – A well honed matureIslay.

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