Lagavulin 25 y.o. (2016) Review

Dear Lord, I miss the days of distillery visits and scooping up distillery exclusive releases. Lagavulin, in particular, has always had cool bottlings only available to those folks who make the journey to Islay. Or, y’know, those savvy enough to watch the auctions and swallow the inflated prices. That’s not my scene, though; I’d rather just make the jaunt when opportunity affords. Fingers and toes crossed for brighter days ahead and open travel.

This limited edition Lagavulin 25 was bottled for the distillery’s bicentenary celebrations in 2016. Unfortunately, I only had a wee sample to work off here. And it was a one-off taste at that, which means little to no opportunity to revisit. For science, I mean, not gluttony. So…my caveat, for the sake of integrity and keeping things on the up and up: the score could maybe shift a point or so in either direction, but I’m pretty comfortable with how I’ve scored it. Make no mistake, this was a brilliant dram.

I imagine most of you are aware that well-aged Lagavulin doesn’t often hit the market. When it does you better be quick and you better have deep pockets. Sadly, I didn’t manage to nab one of these myself, but if an opportunity arises to trade for one, you can bet I will.

So, needless to say, my jet-setting friends, if anyone is making a wee pilgrimage to the land of peat and smoke – and has an extra slot or two in their luggage – please keep me in mind for Lag ‘distillery only’ bottlings.

200th Anniversary release. Sherry casks. 8,000 bottles. 51.7%

Thanks to Danny Fach for the photo.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Oh, so Lagavulin-esque. Coastal and rocking that band-aid-iness to the nines. Ashy and a little boggy. Quintessential Islay saline sea breeze meets beachside bonfire. Orange, leaning more into mandarins. Lemon seared fish skin. And still on the protein, grilled ham. Antiseptic (again, with those hints of bandaids I always pick up on Lagavulin). Cantaloupe (just past ripe) and grilled pineapple. Citrus flavoured Fisherman’s Friend lozenges. Palate: Ashy…sooooo ashy. Dry cacao, just to accentuate (or exacerbate?) that ashy dryness. The heft of peat is actually surprising given the age. A very mild olive oil. Over-toasted coconut. Lime and orange, tangerine and grapefruit (mid-palate to back end). Finish: Malt steps up a bit. Plum. Maybe some apple skins. 92/100

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