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Lagavulin 16 was not the first Islay whisky I ever had but it was the one which made me understand and appreciate the complexity held within Islay scotch. I still think of it as one of my favorites and I had wanted to try the distiller's edition for a long time. When the 1995 came out a few months ago I found it for $100. I'd never spent that much on any bottle of liquor before but I really wanted to try it. Once I bought it I opened it as soon as I got it home. I loved it but I was a little disappointed considering its price. I now review it from the last dram of the bottle that's been open for several months.
It's color is certainly influenced by the pedro ximenez cask, being much more on the brown side rather yellow like most bourbon barrel aged Islay scotches. It's a medium to full bodied scotch that begins just like the 12 and 16 year Lagavulin, with lots of smoke. In this regard, I'd have to same that this distiller's edition is more simplistic than its cousins. With this smokiness, the 16 and most certainly the 12 possess a much more powerful flavor of pure, untainted peat and oak. In the finish though, the distiller's edition takes it a few steps further that the others. There's a lot of vanilla that appears sweetly around the cheeks but the tongue experiences a more tannic, oaky flavor. I've had more complex scotches but the finish on the distiller's edition is nearly endless. Some slight herbal and vegetal flavors appear later alongside the still present vanilla and cocoa.
It's taken me a long time to decide but I think I've finally come to the conclusion that this vintage of the distiller's edition is better than the 16 yr, but only slightly. It's not incredibly different that the 16 yr but its finish is much longer and more complex, which is saying something considering that the 16 yr does not have a short finish at all. I just have to complain about the price. I bought the distiller's edition for $100 dollars and the 16 yr is regularly available where I live for 65-70 dollars, and sometimes even less (I bought my current bottle at costco for $52!). For being roughly double the price of the 16, the distiller's edition is not worth the extra money. Perhaps the 1991 vintage which seems to get all the attention was something incredibly special that the 1995 didn't match, but disparity of prices between the 16 and the distiller's edition is too great for me considering the distiller's edition's only minimal increase in complexity. All those complaints aside though, Lagavulin distiller's edition is an excellent and wonderfully balanced scotch.