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Legs: Thick and slow
Nose: Out of the bottle it’s rather closed, meaty smoke and salt. With a little time some complexity starts to become apparent, intense peat smoke followed by a hint of vanilla and toffee. With a few drops of water (no more!) it really opens up. The sweet smoke makes some space for a wonderful creamy caramel vanilla surprising in its intensity. With some time I’m starting to notice a pleasant menthol thread in this fascinating nose.
Palate: Mouth coating with a sweet caramel vanilla arrival followed quickly by a tongue tingling spiciness and the signature Lagavulin peat.
Finish: Warmth in the throat, plenty of peat smoke, subtle sweetness and a lingering saltiness.
I started to experience some palate fade before the end of my exploration and so used some of the clear memories of my first ever taste a few weeks back.
While there can be no doubt that this is a classic single malt, the intensity of that caramel vanilla in the nose and on the palate leaves me wondering what an unpeated mature Lagavulin spirit would be like. Blasphemy I know and yet...
Without wishing to bang on about this old chesnut, the score would be dangerously close to the limit if this expression was non-chill filtered, natural colour and bottled at higher strength.