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Nose: An eclectic orgy of flavour, one wouldn't even know where to begin. It's the classic tango of sweet and smoke that seemingly only Lagavulin can achieve with such elegance and consistency across all of its range. Here we have toffeed herrings, lamb with orange jelly, vanilla sponge with seaweed syrup, and vegetable ratatouille infused with cigar smoke. Walnuts and avocados are spread on a wet lawn, while raspberry coulis and candle wax is spread on a freshly polished wooden floor, all for us to enjoy. Mesmerising stuff.
Taste: More sweet and smoke dance routines here, however perhaps from the tango on the nose we moved a more slower-paced waltz. Apple shisha smoke wafts through as we sip on a coffee frappucino, still enjoying the vanilla sponge cake found on the nose. Following the frappucino we move on to a more traditional lapsang souchong tea, to accompany the blood oranges, and ginger meringue. Course sea-salt and beach pebble add a savoury mineral underscore to this most endearing of waltzes.
Finish: The more chemical and mineral underscore becomes very much the leading melody in this final dance. Menthol vanilla, luxury soap, chocolate covered salt-lick, coffee beans and lapsang souchong tea-leaves. This more sober and savoury finish means that there is no cloying or over-indulgence in the richness of flavour, and thus leaves us ready to go straight back in for another sip. And at cask strength this is a dangerously seductive routine.
Balance: Truly stunning whisky, so confident in its charismatic elegance. There is so much depth and breadth of flavour, yet so well married together and contained. It hardly even feels like its trying. Total ballroom finesse.