You can slag the world economy, you can slag the Irish for being such great lovers, hell…you can even slag Edmontonians just for being Edmontonians but what you can’t do, if you’re a serious malt fan, is slag the Lag!
For the benefit of the great unwashed, Lagavulin is pronounced “Lagga-no-foolin” and means “hollow by the mill” in Gaelic. The legal Lagavulin distillery was born in 1816 on the rugged sea sprayed Scottish Island of Islay, which is famous for its peated whiskies and local drivers who wave at anything that moves on or near the road. Oh yeah, the distillery is owned by Diageo, you may remember them as the corporation that killed the Port Ellen distillery.
A secret, which is not well known, is that Lagavulin lies on what is called ‘the Peatline’, along with its neighbors of Laphroaig and Ardbeg. This Peatline is a naturally occurring powerful source of phenol denature protein similar to the Rosa line (or Ley line) under the Rosslyn Chapel with its pulsating telluric energy. It is said that standing on top of the Peatline and tasting whisky can put most people into a state of enlightenment. I myself have trembled under this phenolic power while tasting whiskies at all these distilleries. I have also wept and trembled while visiting a whisky shop called Loch Fyne Whiskies in Inverary, which happens to lie on a direct line starting in Laphroaig through Lagavulin, Ardbeg and then ending up under the whisky store of Loch Fyne.
You can laugh at the theory of a flat earth, you can scoff at the existence of the Loch Ness monster and you can jeer at Jim Murray for his outlandish picks for Whisky of the Year, but………………you can’t deny the Power of the Peat. It’s real, it dominates and once consumed, you fall under its sway like a fanatical irrational teen at Justin Bieber concert. Phenolic levels may be measured in PPM parts per millions, but when it comes to Lagavulin, PPM really stands for Peat Power Magnified!
Once again the gang of four sat down on a mild winter’s night, consumed and fell under the influence of the Lagavulin PPM, cheerfully giving up some tasting notes.
16 YEAR OLD STANDARD RELEASE 43 % ABV
NOSE: Light peat on the nose. Oranges and eucalyptus.
TASTE: This is where the rubber hits the road. The peat shows up in all its glory. Black liquorice and dark chocolate. Iodine.
FINISH: Long. Lots of rich tannins at the end.
ASSESSMENT: This is a classy drink. A standard in the world of single malt.
12 YEAR OLD 2006 SPECIAL RELEASE 57.5 ABV%
NOSE: Farmy. Coal-tar. Vanilla and lemon-pepper.
TASTE: Very balanced peat. Apples. Briny.
FINISH: Long and warm, very warm. Somewhat drying.
ASSESSMENT: Good morning sunshine, this is your wakeup call!
2010 DISTILLERY ONLY LIMITED EDITION 52.5% ABV
NOSE: Wow, did not expect this. Oranges & cherries. Honey. Minty. Green apples.
TASTE: Complex fruits. Gentle smoke. Vanilla.
FINISH: Medium to long. Fades ever so gracefully.
ASSESSMENT: Given the ABV % this delicious drink must be 20-25 years plus. This is a must get for a FLF.
25 YEAR OLD BOTTLED 2002 57.2 % ABV BOTTLE # 7387 OF 9,000 BOTTLES
NOSE: Sweet fruits really jumps at you. Vanilla. Leather and lite smoke.
TASTE: Very thick mouth feel, coats your tongue with cherry syrup sweetness. Jammy. Marshmallows and cooked ham.
FINISH: Very, very long.
ASSESSMENT: Not sure what to make of this dram, I don’t love it or hate it, maybe I will go with clearly ambiguous and vaguely indeterminate.
30 YEAR OLD 1976 BOTTLED 2006 52.6 % ABV BOTTLE # 586 OF 2,340 BOTTLES
NOSE: Bam, sensational. Sweet candy. Peaches. Tropical fruit and aged smoke.
TASTE: Great mouth feel. Lemons, grapefruit and lite spices. Creamy caramel.
FINISH: Lovely. Lingering.
ASSESSMENT: Tastes like more, in fact, after the tasting I had more, much more!
RATING OF THE FIRST FIVE :
# 1 – 30 Year Old
# 2 – 2010 Distillery Bottling, surprise of the night, in the good way
# 3 & # 4 tied 16 Year Old & 25 Year Old, although the Maltmonster found the 16 Year Old better
# 5 – 12 Year Old, last but still loved
ENTER THE SHERRY ZONE
1986 DISTILLERS EDITION 43 % ABV BOTTLED 2002
NOSE: Sweet cherries. Wet charcoal and malty.
TASTE: Bottled smoke. Creamy vanilla. Odd sweetness.
FINISH: Medium to long. Bit briny at the end.
ASSESSMENT: Bordering on some sulphur notes.
1980 DISTILLERS EDITION 43 % ABV BOTTLED 2000
NOSE: Oranges and cherries. Almonds and caramel.
TASTE: Big sherry tannins. Light peat. Dark chocolate and coffee. Bourbon sweetness.
FINISH: Long with tannins and drying towards the end.
ASSESSMENT: This is a 20 year old DE, and I think it may have received some additional love in the sherry cask, as most of the other DE are only 16 year old versions.
21 YEAR OLD 1985 BOTTLED 2007 56.5 % ABV BOTTLE # 6012 OF 6,642 BOTTLES
NOSE: Peat smoke. Sulphur…….YES SULPHUR! All of us got it! Melons and light fruit.
TASTE: Creamy. Black liquorice. Ccoffee and some lemon.
FINISH: Long, smooth and complex.
ASSESSMENT: You know what burns me? Matches. The sulphur is not ruinous, but come on, some of the extremely high ratings by others on this malt may be unwarranted.
RATING OF THE LAST THREE —- SCARY SHERRY :
# 1 – 1980 Distillers Edition
# 2 – 21 Year Old, surprise of the night, but in the bad way
# 3 – 1986 Distillers Edition
– I’m Maltmonster, and I approved the drinking of these great whiskies.
So…the Maltmonster often gets not only my sincere thanks for his contributions to ATW, but also booming accolades for the quality of his pieces. This is no exception. Great lineup. Great writeup. Cheers, MM!
Having said that…there is a partner in the G4, whom I have met casually a couple of times now, and who, from what I understand, is the generous soul who contributes many of the malts to these tastings that the ‘Monster partakes in. Though I believe he knows of the site, I am uncertain if he ever visits.
If you’re out there, sir (you will, of course, know I’m speaking to you)…thanks for your contributions to these tastings, which in turn benefit all of us out here. Slainte!
What about the Jazz Festival single cask, didnt you taste that one too?
And aren’t you from Edmonton…
Yes , it’s true my origins are based in Edmonchuck , but it was discovered at an early age, that I was blessed with superior taste and some would say looks as well , so I didn’t fit in and was casted out from the frozen North and raised by a Irish gypsies on the West coast .
Was saving the Lag Jazz Festival bottle for a more Avant –garde scotch tasting , like maybe combining it with the new 1981 Glenmorangie lack of pride bottling that just came out .