This year, one Scotland’s most famous distilleries – Lagavulin – celebrates its 200th birthday. And many happy returns to it!
Usually, distillers see such a landmark as an opportunity to release an overly expensive whisky , which excludes the casual fans from joining in the celebrations. Lagavullin has taken a different approach though, with their inspiration coming from a unique source.
Back in the 1880s, when the distillery had already established a strong reputation, author Alfred Bernard published the book The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom. On arrival at Lagavulin, he said that: “No prettier or more romantic spot could have been chosen for a distillery”, and describes an 8 year old whisky he tried straight from the cask as “exceptionally fine”. So rather than going older, the distillery has chosen to release an 8 year old – priced at just £52.95 – to mark its bicentenary.
The Lagavulin 8 year old has been matured in refill European and American oak casks, with a slightly higher ABV of 48%, compared to 43% for the standard 16 year old.
The palate is very light, not what you’d expect from Lagavulin, but it’s still decidedly an Islay malt – black pepper and woodsmoke are in the background, mixing with gentle citrus flavours. I also got a unexpectedly strong hint of white chocolate. On to the palate and the mouthfeel is extremely rich, with those smoky Islay flavours really coming to the fore. However, it still maintains its lightness of touch. And the finish is just lovely – smoky, yet clean, with a lingering sweetness.
If you are looking for something close to the standard 16 year old, then move along. However, if you are after a cracking dram with a lingering echo of the famous distillery, then be sure to grab a bottle before it sells out!