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With Lagavulin’s 200th birthday drawing near and with many of the fans concerns were growing: would Diageo would make us pay dearly for the jubilee edition, are they cocky enough to force a NAS down our throats? Surprise, oh surprise, none of that, with a wink to the literary monument that is Alfred Barnard’s ‘The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom’ they gave us a youngish 8yo whisky bottled at 48% and solely matured on American oak casks. This ‘affordable’ (it costs twice as much as the 16yo here, make of that what you will!) expression was generally well received by the crowds and it didn’t take long before I too purchased a bottle. Alas, it was emptied in a single session with some of my colleagues at an office party, without me taking notes. So here is a second attempt with a sample for a fellow malt enthusiast.
Description: presumably largely distilled in 2008, matured for 8 years in refill American oak casks, bottled in 2016 at 48% for the 200th Anniversary Edition.
Nose: clean medicinal notes, some motor oil & rubber, iodine, brine, marzipan and beeswax. With a whiff of banana, and do I detect seaweed and oysters?
Mouth: body less rich and rounded than I’ve come to expect from Lagavulin, but with a frank and straightforward palate of ash, oak, tar and rubber, once again that fruity touch of creamy bananas emerges, interesting.
Finish: medium long and restrained with a bitter touch in the tail.
Verdict: straightforwardness is the key here. One would expect that they would give such a youngish whisky the typical ‘microwave’ treatment, artificially aromatising the whisky through a series of wood finishes. But none of that here, they opted for a strong muscular Spartan version of their classic. This is a purely spirit-driven single malt, exploiting all the assets already present in Lagavulin’s new make, which in itself would make for a great product.