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Lagavulin 8 Year Old 200th Anniversary

Average score from 8 reviews and 16 ratings 88

Lagavulin 8 Year Old 200th Anniversary

Product details

  • Brand: Lagavulin
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 48.0%
  • Age: 8 year old
  • Bottled: 2016

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@OdysseusUnbound
Lagavulin 8 Year Old 200th Anniversary

Anyone who knows me, even those who don't like whisky, are aware of my slightly irrational love for Lagavulin. So I'll try to be objective, but you've been warned. Thanks to @Nozinan for the reviewed sample.

Lagavulin 8, 200th Anniversary Edition. Bottled at 48% ABV. The bottle whence came the sample was opened November 17, 2016, gassed after each use, decanted into a smaller bottle May 20, 2017, and the sample poured for me on April 18, 2018. There seems to be mixed information on added colour and chill-filtration. There are no statements about it on the box, but the 48% ABV usually means a whisky hasn't been chill-filtered and Ralfy seems convinced that this is bottled at natural colour. I can neither confirm nor deny one way or the other, and I'm too lazy to Google it.

Tasting Notes

  • Nose (undiluted): tarry ropes, wood smoke and brine, quite vegetal (seaweed), surprisingly fruity with lemons and limes coming through, a hint of caramelized sugar with a bit of eucalyptus at the tail end. Very pleasant nose. Much brighter than the 12 or 16 year bottlings.
  • Palate (undiluted): richer than expected, not at all "hot" for 48% ABV, toffee leads the way but is bowled over by peat smoke, then black pepper with some fruity notes (peaches and apricots) appear, developing cereal notes (barley) near the end.
  • Finish: fairly long, candied ginger and floral honey at first, then a bit sour and fruity, green apples, green (white) grapes and charred lemons, with the wood smoke returning and lingering. Fantastic.

With water added the nose initially becomes brighter. Iodine, brine, and the charred lemons take the lead. The smoke is still there and it doesn't yield. The nose develops more sweetness with water, and the eucalyptus all but disappears. Ten minutes after adding water, a sweetened black tea aroma is present. Water doesn't negatively affect the arrival on the palate either, but it does bring the pepper notes to the forefront. A bit of hot and sweet together. The order of flavours on the finish changes a bit with water added. Campfire ash lead the way, but is overtaken by peaches and apricots drizzled with honey. Smoky, fruity and sweet. An absolute treat with or without water.

There isn't a lot of "low end depth" to this whisky. It is smoky, but also very bright, sweet, and fruity, whereas Laphroaig Quarter Cask has a much deeper flavour but lacks the high end brightness of Lagavulin 8. I think an equal mix of the two might make the perfect young Islay whisky, yet Lagavulin 8 remains fantastic on its own.

I need to get a bottle of this stuff.

Great Review.

Not sure where you can find the anniversary edition of this expression but I understand it ia being released as one of their standard expressions now...

@MadSingleMalt @cricklewood Talisker is a distillery, like Laphroaig, Lagavulin, and Springbank, that gets me irrationally excited. It’s silly, I know, but I’m only human.

@cricklewood

Much has been discussed about this one already so I'll dive right in.

Nose: Mineral, green, diesel fumes, burnt hay, almond oil. Its very mezcal like, génépi, bakelite, ashy smoke. With time freshly shucked oysters, a smidge of powdered sugar and pears

Palate: Dark, sharp,oily, acrid smoke. Bitter plants and artichokes, toasted and salted marcona almonds and lovage.

Finish: Bitter, inky, wet wool and grapefruit pith, it's medium in length very drying.

Somedays this is really superb, firing on all cylinders. Other days it's kind of hangs on to one note and goes with it.

I wasn't crazy about this bottle at first. I didn't gas it and I find the final half much better although I don't think it's changed dramatically. A good young uncompromising whisky, again like the 12 yr old, it shows the quality of the distillate.

That said, as many feared (or wanted) this has become part of the regular line-up. At prices like I've seen in some states (45-65$) I would buy this again. Locally it's a 100$ at that price point it competes with many other whiskys and the 16yr old is 129$, I am unlikely to buy a replacement soon.

Great review! Looking back at my own, I suspect we tasted similarly but you seem to have much more eloquent description. What is "lovage"?

You note that this has become a regular offering. I note in my review almost a year ago how I had hoped it would be.

@Nozinan. Thank you very much. I had enjoyed your review as well, how could I forget "edible ashtrays and citrus". That's worthy of an SMWS outturn title.

Yes I see where we picked up some of the same notes. I am really enjoying it more now that at first, in this case I don't think it's the bottle that has changed but me who as come around.

Lovage is a herb, kind of like celery/parsley hybrid on steroids but that descriptor doesn't do it justice. It's very savoury and bitter, it's actually an ingredient in that "Maggi sauce" you know the brown bottle.

m

Nose: Vegetal like a heap of Autumn leaves, brine, and phenolic. A sweet hint of green pears in the background.

Taste: Neat, the texture you get is creamy and oily. It's very medicinal, with ash and salt, followed by pepper, smoke, and charred wood.

Finish: Long oily, charred wood, and earthy smoke.

Overall it's a decent dram, but for $60usd there's better Scotch out there in this price range. I can't say I would choose this again over a regular Laphroaig CS 10 which goes for a similar price. While tasting this something occurred to me, this tastes like a whisky that has too much water added to it. For being young, it's mellow and doesn't have any vibrancy.

@masterj I am always saying that I like my Laphroaig to be a bit vulgar with an in your face kind of style. I will add that I like my Lagavulin to be civilised and well mannered. Two different styles aiming at two different targets. I would also say it is not fair to compare a CS to a low abv whisky.

@Nozinan

Looking back at my first review of 2017, I had promised a review of this one along with a few others once I finished my “Dry January”. Trying to procrastinate on doing some paperwork, so here’s a quick uncomplicated review for a fairly good and uncomplicated Scotch Whisky.

This bottle was just under a half full. It was opened November 17, has been present at a couple of tastings, and opened several times, always gassed with Private Preserve. This expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.


Nose:

Neat – On first pour, lemony peat. After setting, dust, sweet syrup. I get a hint of Dairy Queen soft serve. Also a hint of grapefruit pith. Hint of sage. 22/25

With water – Same profile. The syrup is a little thicker and sweeter. I get a hint of varnish. The smell when you rub those old pink erasers, maybe a little tire skid or plastic electrical wire heating up (can I say “in a good way”?). Getting some brine and smoked salmon (only ever smelled lox in Bowmore before today). Sage is gone, but the soft serve peeks through. More complex. (23/25)

Taste:

Neat – Sweet arrival, dry, vegetal peat. Almost like thin, light syrup. Tastes good, strong flavour but not too complex. 21/25

With water – Richer, slightly less sweet, more savory, pepper. Interesting, I had a few sips of soda water and when I came back to it the flavours were all washed out. A few sips bring me back to where I want to be with this one. (21.5/25)

Finish:Some ash. Astringent. Remains sweet. Actually a fairly long finish with lots of peat breath. 22/25. No change with water

Balance: Nose and palate go together. Perhaps a tad sweet. 21/25. A little less sweet with water. (22/25)

Score: Neat - 86 /100 With Water: 88.5 /100

Score Based on Enjoyment: 88/100


I like this whisky. I’d probably give the nod to a good 12YO CS batch over this, but I enjoy it much more than the 16. The added ABV is what supports this. I’d probably be very stingy with the water with this one.

It would be nice if they made this into a standard release.

I recently passed up on this, might want to reconsider...

@GentlemanGrimm

Colour: Light white wine.

Nose: Smoke, peat, slightly medicinal with a touch of new make spirit about it making seem a bit younger than it is. It’s also sweet though, with a hint of milk chocolate and a touch of fruit with a slight citrus edge.

Palate: Smoke and peat, salty, touch of oats, sweet chocolate and some nuttiness followed by peppper.

Finish: Smoke, chocolate, salt/brine and some bitterness.

Overall: I love Lagavulin 16 – it’s my current go to whisky for a relaxing dram. The 8 year is a special release to celebrate the distillery being open (legally) for 200 years and costs a few pounds more than the 16 year. I enjoyed it, it was different from the 16 year and interesting to see what a younger expression from Lagavulin had to offer. However I don’t think it stands up to the 16 year – it’s a lot rougher and the extra 8 years in casks obviously rounds out off and makes it smoother. I also don’t think it’s worth the price – even as a special release.

Interesting and worth trying a sample of definitely but doesn’t stand up to the 16 year and isn’t worth the price in my opinion. I’ve got a sample of their Distillers Edition to try soon and it will be interesting to see how that stands up in comparison.

@Ol_Jas I think you've eloquently restated my comment.

Now, your statement "I can dig it", I assume you mean you understand it, not condone it.

Nice review. Interesting. I haven't had a dram of this in almost a month so it's hard to remember all the details...I've been meaning to do my own review.

In terms of price, here in Ontario the 8 YO is about $100, whereas the 16 is $123. The distiller's edition and 12 YO cask strength are both $160. So you can see that price and age are not clearly linked. I think one of the confounding variables is ABV.

I bought a 200 cc bottle of the 16 a few years ago and enjoyed it, but my last taste of a 16 was disappointing. It may have been the batch, or maybe I've become more fond of CS stuff.

I like the bolder flavour of the 8YO, likely supported by the higher ABV.

@talexander

I don't often get a bunch of different Lagavulins in the house (though I have stored away the 1979 and 1980 DEs!), so let's try both the new 200th Anniversary 8 Year Old, and the new 2015 12 Year Old, and compare to the ubiquitous 16 Year Old.

The 8 Year Old was bottled as a bicentennial edition, and what's great about it is how relatively inexpensive it is. You would think a one-time bottling like this would be old and super-pricey, but it clearly was meant to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. Bravo!

The colour is a very light straw. Funny I mention straw, since that's what you get on the nose (very dry), with bright lemon, chocolate mint and brine. Medicinal with iodine. A bit metallic. Of course, wafts of peat smoke. With water we get light honey, crisp cereal notes and more peat smoke. Classic Laga nose, though a bit too young.

On the palate the lemon slowly grows more prominent, with prickly peat, Rice Krispies and a bit too much salt (even more so with water). Peppery as well, though, and buttery. Like the nose, very nice (and more on the sweet side) but to be honest, could use more time in oak.

The finish is long, mouth-drying and developing with very light oak, cayenne pepper and more mint. This is a very bright, fresh Lagavulin, with the oak so light it almost jumps out of the glass. And no sherry in sight, as far as I can tell. A bit too young but it does work - an Islay for a summer afternoon. Far lighter than the 16, and lacking the rich fruity depth on the nose and palate; but the 8 sends that bright lemony peat smoke into the stratosphere.

@talexander @jeanluc I have found that this one settles quite nicely with some time in the open bottle and very, and I mean VERY, judicious addition of water. It drowns very easily. Give it a little time and I think you will find it improves considerably. Good B for the B too compared to the now very pricey 12 year old annual releases.

@Pierre_W

As everybody interested in single malts knows by now, this 8-year old bottling was released to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the founding of Lagavulin distillery in 1816. It was inspired by the visit of Alfred Barnard to the “village of Lagavulin” and the distillery in the 1880s when he wrote about an 8-year old that they tasted “and which was exceptionally fine”.

The nose starts off with soft smoke, brine and those malty and milky flavours that I love so much in the 12-year old special editions that are released every year: similar structure, just a little bit less pronounced. Next, I got walnuts, lemons and a hint of seaweed. Quite sooty and ashy, too – this is a fabulous nose!

The palate is medium-bodied, spicy and very dry. The lemon flavours are back, now together with a touch of cinnamon, more walnuts and plenty of white pepper. The soft smoke from the nose has been fully replaced by notes of soot and ash. Interestingly, the respectable 48% ABV do not really show on the palate – this is a surprisingly modest body.

The finish is long, warming and very, very sooty. Again there are notes of lemons and cinnamon, followed by a hint of white pepper.

So far, I have never tasted a Lagavulin that was not great and this 8-year old is no exception. It reminded me a lot of the yearly 12-year old special releases, only that it was less boisterous and less poised, which is why I am tempted to call this the little brother of the 12-year old. I love the reference to Alfred Barnard and the history behind it, and it is kind of fun to imagine that this is what Barnard might have tasted. In short: excellent stuff given the relatively young age of 8 years, and in terms of rating this is just one notch below the last 12-year old that I tried.

@Pierre-W, thanks for your excellent review. That is good to see that you too like this Lagavulin 8 yo 200th Anniversary release. I have only seen very positive reviews for it. It is always nice to have confidence when you are considering purchase of a new bottle. The degree of unanimity of opinion around Lagavulin 8 yo 200th Anniversary release is unusual.

It is interesting about the relative climates for aging whisky. In chilly Scotland 8 years is a 'young' age for whisky, whereas in hot-summered Kentucky 8 years produces a middle-aged bourbon. 8 years in Bangalore India might produce something undrinkably "old".

@Pierre_W Happy to see Lagavulin proudly releasing young whiskies both with a fantastic story behind it as well as flavors to match. Had this in Islay when I was there last month. Excellent little dram, this.

@MaltActivist

It was raining when we landed in Islay. Cold and persistent. It was a day before the whisky festival was about to start and things were looking damp.

When you live in a place like Dubai where they actually have to fire water pellets into clouds to get some rain, believe me, weather like this is like dying and going to heaven. Only problem was we had a number of outdoor activities planned for the week and rain was going to be a problem if it persisted.

But as luck would have it the rain stopped the next morning, the clouds opened up and it the sun shone like it had never before for the rest of the week. But that's a story for another day.

After checking into the Port Askaig Hotel (our first stop) we freshened up in our rooms (Mull & Rum - don't ask me why) and headed down to the Old Port Bar for a bit of food and, of course, some whisky.

After being greeted warmly by the bar staff we settled in our seats and chose, instead, to start the evening with an Islay Ale. I quite like Saligo which is a sweet and rather mild beer. Much more to my liking compared to the darker ones. Besides I didn't want to ruin my palate too much. I had the Lagavulin 8 looking back at me from across the bar.

I'm a huge fan of Lagavulin and I'm pretty sure I have yet to taste something from them that I don't like. I may like some less than others but if there's a distillery that's got it's craft down to the proverbial T it's this one.

And what's more they are unafraid. It's 8 years old, the label screams. And there's a reason for that you snobby bastard.

Alfred Barnard, the famous brewing and distilling historian from Britain, undertook an epic journey across Ireland, England & Scotland researching for his famous book 'The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom'.

It was at Lagavulin or as I like to call it, that he tried an 'exceptionally fine' eight-year-old from the distillery. And it is to commemorate this event that the spirit inside this bottle is of this particular age.

My sample is from an open bottle and served at 48%

Soft. Smokey peat. Quite a bit of salt. Fishnets. Kelp. White pepper. Lemon rind. Lime. Cardamom seeds. Brine. Hint of aniseed. Touch of green herbs. Sugarcane juice. That lovely Islay grist. This is quite a wonderfully sooty nose. Lots of spent ash. Quite typically Lagavulin with a feistiness that I love.

White pepper pin pricks. Then the sugars crumble beautifully. Toasted barley. Not very very sweet. Lots of soot and ash. Limoncello. Dry ginger. This is so nice and complex.

**Finish: **Nice and satisfying. Drying. Touch of spice.

This is such a solid whisky, I tell you. Really liked everything about it. The fact that it's young and sprightly and carries this much flavour really works for me. It's very reasonably priced on top of that. So all in all a great start to the trip. Despite the rain.

8.2

@MaltActivist, thanks for your colourful review. That is good to see more corroboration that the Lagavulin 8 yo is a first rate product. So far all of the word is good.

The conversion system for your 32.8 points to 91 points is not immediately self-evident.

@Victor I should have removed my scores. My overall score of 8.2 is what I feel would have been a 91. I just average out the Nose, Palate & Finish to arrive at my overall score.

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