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For my 100th review on this site, I thought I’d opt for something special. While I don’t like to toss around the term ‘favorite,’ I consider this to be among the cream of the crop when it comes to single malts. It ranks so highly on my “Holy-sh!t-that’s-good”-o-meter that it took me a few drams before I even WANTED to start sipping it analytically. Now that I have, here are my notes for the 2011 release. It’s been open for two months, is half full, and was sampled with a small amount of water.
Nose: The usual suspects of peat, seaweed, brine, and citrus are immediately apparent. Sea air, leather, mustard seed, ginger, glazed ham, damp leaves, and a juicy, rich barley note. This is potent and very structured.
Palate: Medium-light mouthfeel. True to Lagavulin form, the arrival is very controlled. We aren’t blasted with flavours, we’re steadily guided into them. But these flavours are BIG. There’s a very intense, clean, crisp peat here. More of that juicy barley kicks in, as do lemon lozenges, tea, sea salt, glazed ham, green apple, mint, sponge cake, and rum balls.
Finish: The crisp, clean, intense peat carries on. Tea, twigs, barley, brine, pastry crust, lemon tart, cinnamon, allspice, Jamaican jerk spice, jerked beef, minerals, menthol, ginger, and something faintly reminiscent of curry.
Well, there’s no getting around it; this is brilliant. As I mentioned in my review of the 16, the Laga house style is defined by a delicate balance of restraint and force. So it comes as no surprise that this whisky is characterized by complexity, control, and intensity. It won’t disappoint those who want to experience the elegance and balance of the 16 with the raw force of a peated cask-strength whisky. This comes greatly recommended. It’s beautifully balanced, wonderfully rich, and a truly delicious whisky through and through.