Nov 242016
 

Lagavulin 8 y.o. 200th Annniversary Editionimg_4024

48% abv

Score:  87/100

 

So…you may or may not know, but Lagavulin 8 comes with a big fat ‘what the fuck?’ written all over it.  On the one hand, that question is easy to answer.  On the other, well…not so easy.  This limited edition expression from arguably Diageo’s classiest of brands was released as part of the distillery’s bicentennial celebration.  Two hundred years is a doozy of a milestone, and one can only assume the occasion would be met with fanfare equal to the magnitude of the occasion.  Well then…why an eight year old?

In the late 1880s, when historian Alfred Barnard visited the distillery, he was poured a dram of eight year old Lagavulin which he referred to as ‘exceptionally fine’.  This current 200th year commemorative release was crafted as a way to pay homage to Mr. Barnard’s acknowledgement of the historical quality of Lagavulin.  So you see?  The choice of an eight year old is somewhat apropos.  Well…sort of, anyway.  Isn’t this then a commemoration of a milestone decades later than the one you’re actually trying to focus on?  Hmmm.

The flip side too is that an eight year old is hardly an occasion-making knockout of a malt, is it?  Slightly anti-climactic, if you ask me.  If I was the one who had control over teeming warehouses of slumbering Lag I think I would have taken it upon myself to build something a little more…spectacular.  Perhaps an 18 year old.  Or something to rival the Feis Ile or Jazz Fest releases.  But still at a reasonable price point.

To be fair, Lagavulin did release a 25 year old this year as well, also done up in 200 year markings, but it’s price was beyond ridiculous.  Of course it was going to be, though, seeing as the 21 from a couple years back retailed at almost $900 Canadian.  Ouch.  Maybe we’ll just take our affordable eight year old and shut up.

Is it good though?  Yeah.  Quite.  I liked it anyway.  And most others I know that have tasted it found it quite decent too.  We’ll take comfort in the fact that there is finally another option from a distillery that historically has held to a very limited range.

Nose:  I’d guess Caol Ila, if given blind.  Burnt rubber.  Noses very young, but unflawed.  Quite herbal.  And smells fresh off the mill.  Ocean water and fresh mussels or oysters.  Brand new wellies.  Citrus.  Minerally.  Quite sharp.  That very typical Lagavulin Band-aid-iness (can that be an adjective now?).

Palate:  Sharp and immediately on the attack.  Young.  Nutty.  Smoky.  There’s a substantial industrial, dry smokiness here.  Burnt seafood.  Dry and ashy.  Tarry even.  Lots of citrus.  While the nose hints at the delicate nature of underripe Caol Ila, the palate is much more of an uppercut.  Even so…not sure I’d guess this was Lagavulin if I didn’t know better.  Well…maybe.  Granny Smith apple skins on the finish.

Thoughts:  I think this would be great poured over Islay oysters with a squeeze of lemon.  Oh, wait…it is.  Possibly my new favorite meal.  Good malt, not quite great.

 

 – Images & Words:  Curt

 Posted by at 7:31 am

  84 Responses to “Lagavulin 8 y.o. 200th Annniversary Edition Review”

  1. Kudos to Lagavulin for putting an 8 year age statement on this one. I’m on my second bottle and my experience is that given some time and air in the bottle it becomes much more Lagavulin-ish. At 48% it takes very little water to knock the alcohol down to a smoother palate. Too much (my first mistake) and it drowns. Viewed side by side with the 16, I would guess there is no added colorant. It is still available in BC at just around $100 with taxes in. If it were an 18 year old I’m sure we would be looking at something close to $250.

    A fine and honest review, as always, Curt.

    • I agree with Chris 1 about appreciating Lag’s honesty on age, just as I appreciate Curt’s question as to whether the overall direction here is anything to celebrate, even where a broader range is better/represents a change in thinking. The info is positive; whether the youth it reflects is always a step up is a different question but, without the info, it’s impossible to judge.

      Like Chris, I’ve also found that, with Lag, time/air on the bottle makes a big difference and that adding water is pretty delicate.

      Cheers!

  2. I’ve only got a few drams left in my bottle that I’ve had for 2+ months. I’ve been slowly drinking it to see how it changes. It’s definitely the younger version of the 12, which I totally adore, and is only $55 versus the $95 for the 12. I hope they continue with it, as it’s a younger (and cheaper), tasty peater. I haven’t run out to buy another, as I’ve been occupied with the other whiskies I have open, but I will.

  3. Hi there,

    folks, I do not want to dampen your enthusiasm for the 8yo but it is a whisky designed to fit a marketing opportunity too good to miss.

    You know in the early days of the distillery a prolific early whisky writer is served a dram of an 8 year old…. and there is even a historic quote to go with that, „exceptionally fine“.

    That is a marketeers dream, don’t you think?

    Or a well concealed case of „buy our story, the whisky comes free“.

    It is true though, Diageo could have done a fancy NAS bottling for only a zillion dollars for the rich and priveliged or they could have done a 25 yo for the same clientele…. oh they actually did.

    I was not overwhelmed by the „design“. The packaging was nice enough and I appreciate the age statement but knowing the 16yo and various 12yo cask strengths …. I expected more Lagavulin-ness. More power more Islay if you know what I mean.

    Here in Germany it came in two waves. The first in spring this year was labeled as „mit Farbstoff“ after it arrived in our country with an additional sticker put on every bottle– even though it was not artificially coloured.
    I said if they had used colouring agents they would have done it properly! This first batch flew off the shelves.

    The second wave came in fall as you call autumn. There was no noticable difference to the first batch so that I would say that they were not two different batches at all but only two waves of delivery of the identical item.

    The only difference was.., the „mit Frabstoff“ sticker was missing. The second wave does not fly not from the shelves nor in any way else.
    Demand seems to have been satisfied with the first wave. Why only?

    Greetings
    kallaskander

    • I haven’t tried it, and it may (or may not) be a triumph depending upon people’s expectations, but it does avoid the question that sabotages the logic of all the many NAS “anniversary celebration” expressions out there: “So, somehow the age of the distillery this came from is a big deal, but the age of what I’m actually being sold is not?”.

      The point about the marketing hook(s) is very well made: everything in whisky these days is “time honoured” – except, in most cases, production.

      Cheers!

  4. I quite like this one. It’s better than the 2014 12 YO CS and I think I prefer it to the 16 YO. The age is right up there, no colourant, 48%.

    That said, it isn’t as exciting as an Octomore, which is even younger.

    I paid an average of about $100 for my 2 bottles and I consider it a worthwhile purchase.

  5. Hi there,

    I found this on a Canadian blog

    „This bi-centennial bottling isn’t an attempt at a re-creation of what Barnard tippled. Quite frankly it would be an impossible task without a time machine since nearly every aspect of production from equipment to process has changed over the decades.
    Rather, as Dr. Nick Morgan, head of whisky outreach at Diageo, explained in an interview with Forbes magazine, “we wanted to produce a whisky that tasted great–and something that was at an affordable price for a special bottling. So when we fell upon Barnard’s tale of tasting an eight-year-old Lagavulin, everything fell into place. The challenge was to find the casks that would deliver against the promise. And we believe to have done that. But to be clear, it’s not a recreation of what Barnard tasted…it’s really an homage.”

    To those who might question the merits or price point of a younger version of a favourite whisky, Morgan offers a compelling rationale for the anniversary bottling, “the obsession with age statements and older whiskies is really a product of the late twentieth century.
    And we should remember that the majority of Scotch that’s consumed around the world today doesn’t carry an age statement. The fact of the matter is–as Lagavulin 8 Year Old demonstrates very clearly–is that older isn’t better. It’s simply different [and] in my experience, if you select your casks carefully, you can find many wonderful whiskies aged six, eight, or ten years that have very specific tastes and flavors that are lost with excessive aging–because the wood character begins to dominate. Age has become a lazy way of defining quality and price. And that’s demonstrably not how it should be.”

    http://www.scotchblog.ca/scotch_blog/2016/11/lagavulin-8-year-old.html

    One could have guessed – no, one could have been sure that Dr. Nick would not miss the opportunity to sing the high praise of what is convenient to his employer at this time and age about NAS and age.

    Looking forward to the song they will sing after 2018ff.

    “Age has become a lazy way of defining quality and price. And that’s demonstrably not how it should be.”

    How true in the case of Lagavulin 25 for the anniversary Dr. Nick, how true. And as a gerneral rule and practice.

    “Self-awareness is the first step to improvement” as they say.

    Greetings
    kallaskander

    • But even Dr. Morgan can’t talk too long without tripping himself up – “if you select your casks carefully, you can find many wonderful whiskies aged six, eight, or ten years that have very specific tastes and flavors that are lost with excessive aging” – if the tastes and flavors are “very specific” to those ages, then obviously the ages matter to the product, whether “the majority of Scotch that’s consumed around the world today doesn’t carry an age statement” or ““the obsession with age statements and older whiskies is really a product of the late twentieth century” or not.

      There are “very specific” tastes and flavours associated with a lot of three year old product as well, but they aren’t generally tastes and flavours that are in high demand, and Nick’s silly NAS defenses NEVER come out as attacks on things like Lag 25 – what about all the wonderful and unique six, eight and ten year old flavours lost there? Is Lag 25 a victim of “excessive aging”, Dr. Morgan? Somehow there is such as thing as “excessive aging”, but not “underaging” – or, at least, you never read about it.

      There’s a lot of lazy thinking done around the subject of age, all right, and Nick Morgan is one of its primary authors and cheerleaders. If age matters to any whisky, it matters to all whisky.

      • Hi there,

        if you follow that logic the Lagavulin 16yo is excessively overaged. But I still like it better than the 8yo.
        What only is wrong with me?

        Greetings
        kallaskander

        PS And – in all fairness – the 25yo Lagavulin should never have been allowed to become that old. All those complex excessively overaged aromas and flavours that killed the very specific taste of youth. Terrible. They should be ashamed to ask prices like this for such excessively overaged bad whisky.
        The impertinence in such an offering…

        • I like the 8 better than the 16.

          Better ABV, and maybe the lack of colourant?

          Also, peated whiskies can be good at a young age.

          • I’m not sure if I like the 8 more than the 16. I’ll have to buy a bottle and compare. I definitely love the 12. Just think of the 8 as a younger version of the 12.

          • Also drinking Kilchoman 2008 Vintage, so a 7-8 YO. Good, but I prefer the Lagavulin 8. Yes, young peaters work quite well, especially when they are only $53-$55. Christmas package of Ardbeg 10 with mini-bottles of Oogie and Corry for only $39!

  6. It tastes good, it has an age, and we still get mired in the same old same old…

  7. Hah! Don’t you understand?? It’s no longer about enjoying whisky, but dissecting it until it’s totally unappealing. If you insist on enjoying the aroma and taste of whisky, just skip any comments longer than a few sentences, as the longer ones will make you wonder why you should bother with whisky.

    • Bruce and Robert, what’s the problem? Kallaskander posts some 100% relevant quotes about this whisky from the guy representing the company who made it. We, including the often-slagged Jeff, respond. That all seems pretty legit to me, as do the criticisms made about Nick’s illogical series of comments.

      I myself have previously asked Jeff to not FORCE every chat into an NAS attack, but he’s no culprit here.

      Must we now ask you to not slam Jeff just for participating in chat about NAS and young age statements? Give the guy a break.

      • It’s become a bit of a bandwagon now to slag Jeff every time he comments. Nobody has to agree, nobody has to even read his posts, but let’s keep the snide remarks out of these comments. Jeff’s opinions and point of view are as valid and legitimate as anyone else’s. He is, admittedly, on a bit of a narrowly focused campaign: so what? He has made some very valid points and contributed to this forum for a long time. AS Ol’ Jas says, cut the guy some slack, or if he really pisses you off that much, just ignore him.

        • I don’t really mind my critics; at least they’re awake enough that they CAN be pissed off, which does put them ahead of people unwilling to think about these issues at all. Modern whisky is mainly the victim of sheer greed and duplicity and those blissfully asleep to both – folks so happy to be part of a whisky community that they ignore the whisky market on an “industry knows best” basis.

          And it’s all understandable, really; everyone would LIKE to believe that they’re living/participating in whisky’s “Golden Age” – I would too – but the narrative has changed, and only to fit the business model, and products are following suit. We won’t return to affordable older whisky by wishing it so, but the possibility still exists to push for a far more honest dialogue about what is being done and why (and the Compass Box initiative, for instance, while not perfect, IS a step in that direction) – and to realize that producer and consumer interests aren’t always synonymous because of a common interest in whisky.

          I also previously submitted my “But even Dr. Morgan can’t talk too long without tripping himself up…” comment to the original blog sited by Kallaskander and, of course, it doesn’t appear there as of this point – which speaks to another problem with a lot of current whisky commentary: much of it is not only in denial about physics and logic, it is in such a pronounced industry-friendly role that it’s not about education or debate either, only promotion. At least Dominic Roskrow WILL acknowledge that what he does is advertising.

          Cheers!

          • Sure, but why does it have to come up in every review? They’ve even commented about this on Connosr…

            ‎건배 !

          • Thanks for the question.

            Well, one reason that immediately pops to mind, and that is seldom commented upon (except, quite notably, by Kallaskander), is that NAS, while not rooted in physics or reason in any way, is – in and of itself – remarkably repeated, and pervasive, bullshit (see Morgan, above). If anyone is waiting for anyone else to denounce it, much less in the continually ongoing way that it IS persistently presented, they’d be far better off not holding their breath while waiting for my critics to do it. There’s a difference between just knowing something is bullshit and actively opposing it, and many, for various reasons, haven’t even managed the former, so they can’t be expected to undertake the latter. If any of the “big names” in whisky – Murray, Roskrow, Broom, MacLean, etc. – would like to help with the lifting by pointing out NAS is self-contradictory nonsense, or even go on the record as saying, in clear terms, that, yes, age matters to whisky, they’d be more than welcome. What, no real takers, and that might mean that a lot of “experts” are fundamentally compromised, even helping NAS? Careful, there are some signs of consciousness on the horizon.

            As for what “even the folks on Connosr” are saying, if what I’m saying is waking people up over there as well, that’s both good and long overdue (even if they’re some of the same people who occasionally rattle my chain over here). Checking recently, I see that something I said a long time ago – that NAS is a type of label, NOT a type of whisky – still goes without any effective answer/counterargument over there just as it did for me elsewhere in the whiskyverse. It’s nice to see that rocks still fall down everywhere, but I DO give Ol’ Jas full credit for making the point (and the vital one that good NAS whiskies aren’t good because they’re NAS), particularly in that environment.

            On that note, I used to very occasionally find writers who thought outside the box over on Connosr (and kudos to them, see above), but I gave up any regular reading of the site as the ever-present forces of conformity and group-think would swoop down upon them in discouragement (as they would also do here, if allowed to do so). It’s a big platform (that I did, unsuccessfully, try to join twice) but I never found very much content that was controversial and/or critical there – but maybe other people will change that. Then again, levels of debate are all relative anyway; some current blogs could easily be renamed “Home on the Range Whisky – Where seldom is heard a discouraging word”. In the meantime, if anyone over there really wants to find me they, evidently, know where I am.

          • But you didn’t answer the question… why every review?

            Do you not think it would be more effective to post to the threads on NAS instead of turning every review into such a rigmorole? Oy! What a conundrum!

            건배 !

          • I thought the point, made in the first paragraph, was rather obvious: when you’re actually opposing pervasive marketing that stands against your interests as a consumer, you do it in a pervasive way; you don’t just say “I don’t like NAS” once and quit any more than Morgan says “NAS is great, people who don’t like it are hotheads/don’t know whisky” just once and quits. The current overall trend in whisky is that pertinent product information IS being taken away from consumers on an ongoing basis, day by day, week by week. Some people are already awake to this, some aren’t, but more are waking up all the time.

            I don’t know what would be “more effective”, but if other people would like to actually undertake their OWN opposition to NAS, instead of playing tactical consultant to me, they’re more than welcome. But, as I said, I can’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

            Cheers!

          • Veritas, I’m the one who brought it up over on Connosr. The general subject of NAS whisky was raised, and I pointed out that this blog is a good place to follow NAS chatter. It is that, is it not?

            Your comment here has the connotation of “wow, even over on Connosr they think you’re a broken record, Jeff.” And that was not the tone of my comment at all. At all. (It was part of Nozinan’s response, but we didn’t dwell on it.)

            Also, what’s going on here? Are ATW people and Connosr people all the same people under different guises? Anyone care to share their alter ego so we know whom the hell we’re talking to? 🙂 I’m Ol’ Jas everywhere.

          • In case anyone is interested enough to make the jump over to Connosr:

            https://www.connosr.com/n-a-s-not-a-sip-whisky-discussion-2215

          • Yeah, looking at writing styles and what some people consider an “argument” vs. an insult vs. a “zinger”, identity is an interesting question – not only between different sites, but also right here at home. I’ve noticed quite a lot of similarity between the prose of Skeptic and Veritas, for example, and also between that of David and Athena. That they are allies goes without question, but I confess to sometimes wondering if they really ARE “legion” as well.

            The discussion on Connosr is interesting and I’d make three points about it. First, it’s good to see some discussion on this topic elsewhere – the single most important trend in whisky – as opposed to just what somebody happened to buy on Monday and open on Tuesday. I sincerely DO think that there IS “room” for discussions of all kinds everywhere, but NAS often doesn’t get talked about in many forums EXCEPT to defend it or to say “it’s no big deal”.

            But people ARE waking up, and it’s good to see that they’re also waking up to the fact the NAS isn’t just about the hidden premiumization of youth and the overt premiumization of age, but also the premiumization of age information. Just knowing what you’re drinking is becoming a more expensive proposition, at all levels. John Glaser is supposedly on “my side” on this, but it’s STILL not enough to pry what goes into all his whiskies from Compass Box. Such are the limits of alliance.

            Second, in my own defense, while I do take the criticism in the tone intended (and it is valid anyway), I also have to say that if I have argued against NAS “too often”, it has often been against a silent backdrop of others not arguing against it at all – but, again, I’m glad if that’s changing.

            Third, on pricing, while production costs are covered, of course, one of the main drivers on initial prices is just the industry asking for a high one and then finding out what the market will bear (after cranking up the “buzz/promotion” machine, of course, by making sure reviewers are well supplied with free samples to praise to the skies).

            As elsewhere, the industry goal isn’t the fabled “fair price”, it’s profit maximization. One of the excellent points made by Serge Valentin in his examination of NAS and age (http://www.maltmaniacs.net/E-pistles/Malt-Maniacs-2010-04-Does-the-age-of-Scotch-whisky-matter.pdf) is that consumers not only pay more for older products, but also pay more per year OF age for older products. If you’re a fan of whisky complexity, the industry knows it has you where it wants you.

            Cheers!

          • Veritas,

            We’ll have to discuss our writing and come up with some way to differentiate… It’s ok for someone to dominate the discussion of any whisky review with the same tired rant, but not for two people to have a similar writing style.

            Jeff,

            You are THAT person who comes to a Town Hall discussion on health care and tries to turn the discussion to the BDS movement (for or against – they both do it) or carbon pricing or abortion or whatever.

            I know you say you take criticism in the tone it’s intended, but you don’t learn from it.

            It is a fact that people who place their arguments strategically are more effective than people who rant everywhere about the same thing. Those people get lost in the static.

            Quite simply, do you really care about the NAS issue? Then learn from others and campaign more effectively.

            Or, are you just trying to drown out everyone else? Continue what you’re doing…

            Cheers!

            Or should I say….건배 !

          • I didn’t say it was wrong to have the same writing style – and I’ll concede that “Veritas” IS far more honest in the presentation of other people’s ideas than “Skeptic” – I’ve questioned whether you were the same person. Other people might, quite honestly, not see what I’m talking about, but I, just as honestly, do.

            “Quite simply, do you really care about the NAS issue? Then learn from others and campaign more effectively.” – yes, I do and, as I’ve already pointed out, what, EXACTLY, have my all “tactical consultant” critics actually done on that very same issue (except maybe to act, collectively, as an intelligence dampening field?). Absolutely nothing, as far as I’ve been able to see. If you feel drown out, it could be because you’re essentially saying very little – part of the problem or part of the landscape – and, in that regard, my critics are largely interchangeable in any case.

            Really, the fundamental issue is that what many people like less than the fact I think a lot about whisky is that what I write makes them think more about whisky, maybe too much; it puts considerable uncomfortable vibration into a lot of applecarts where it’s currently, and comfortably, assumed that drinking a lot of whisky and buying a lot of bottles somehow automatically translates into a lot of whisky knowledge – or at least enough to enable folks to ignore (and contradict) obvious whisky basics to focus on what they just opened, what they paid for it, whether it’s “smoky”, and if the industry feels sufficiently appreciated for making it.

            There is, naturally, a lot of induced tension there, and between the outlook of those people and my own, but where the “solution” to that tension is either to simply ignore the substance of what I’m saying, call me Donald Trump (as if they can parlay their “political acumen” into whisky “wisdom”), or just “a hothead”… well, that speaks for itself. Where the logical rubber meets the reasoning road, there’s a lot of shut up, but often very little put up.

            Cheers!

          • Jeff,
            If you’re interested in another little tidbit from a (sympathetic) “tactical consultant,” I gotta say that I rather liked my little “NPS (no peat statement)” rhetorical device over on Connosr.

            Age is one of the main drivers of what any given whisky will be like, so it seems like a winning argument to compare to other label info we take as a given. Is it bourbon or scotch? What’s the ABV? Is it heavily peated? And oh yeah, how old is it?

            I’m reminded of that guy who showed up here (I think it was here) to say that all he needs his orange juice to say is “orange juice,” so all he needs his whisky to say is “whisky.” That guy was funny.

          • So Jeff, are you suggesting that I’m the Yin to Skeptic’s Yang?

            I would rather be him (or her) than you…

            건배 !

            Or should I say… Cheers!

          • Oh, yeah, NPS IS something that a lot of people should be able to relate to. I always thought that the comparable nonsense of selectively withholding something as vital as ABV should be readily understandable as well, but it’s been very hit and miss here for years.

            One thing that baffles me is how people will argue for NCF and no E150a (which I do support) as if the opposites were abominable adulterations of whisky, but many of the same people don’t want to “know they’re drinking” in terms of age, as if they’re going to taste caramel more than a difference of 5-10 years in most scotches.

            On the recent bit about Kavalan, I’d also probably mention that, if the roundly-endorsed theory of the value of hot-house maturation is correct, and these whiskies mature 3-4 times more quickly than scotch, then it’s also pretty obvious that every week/month/year is 3-4 times MORE important to their development compared to scotch.

            As for the orange juice guy, his reasoning – “all I need to know is what I like – IS, I think, surprisingly widespread but just not widely admitted to. As I’ve said, consumers want to believe that they’re living in whisky’s “Golden Age”, that the whisky industry has magically “reinvented” itself (and cask physics) instead of just giving them a snow job. Many of these same folks are clearly dreaming concerning industry intentions (“I don’t care about NAS so long as they don’t change the whisky” – NAS is being embraced TO change the whisky, that’s WHY the age metric is being removed in the first place), but you can only work with the material you have – and people will ALWAYS want to fool themselves as opposed to admitting that someone ELSE is fooling them (it keeps things neat, internal, and unembarrassing).

            Furthermore, I think it’s entirely possible that many of these same consumers really WANT to believe that whisky experts CAN just make shit up and have it magically become true because, IF that’s possible, then they ALSO have some clear hope of being considered “whisky experts” themselves.

            Please follow the bouncing ball here:

            If there is no whisky truth, then there IS no whisky knowledge, ONLY opinion – and, if there is no whisky knowledge then, alakazam!, everyone IS a whisky expert because all you then NEED is an opinion. It’s the Emperor’s New Clothes of Whisky; nobody calls the industry on its revisionist bullshit and, in exchange, the industry lets on to people that “knowing what you like is all you NEED to know about whisky” so, congratulations, you’re now a whisky authority. Your diploma’s in the mail.

            The above WILL be lost on many readers, but I say it for the benefit of the others.

            And, to Veritas – I think it would be more accurate to say that you’re the yang to Skeptic’s yin, or the Jekyll to his Hyde. As for not wanting to be me, that’s entirely understandable; as it is, you get to fence with someone like me, while I…

            Cheers!

  8. Some whisky profiles CAN be good at a young age, and peated whisky, in particular, is one of those profiles. Quality itself is in the eye of the beholder, but if it’s (rightly) acknowledged that age has a major impact on whisky character, then it’s impossible to expound upon the value of youth while saying other people have an “over concern” with age, or that age only matters where and when a producer can make a long dollar using it as a selling point. My point was never whether the 8 “tastes good” or how good it tastes, only that age, in large part, makes it the whisky it is and that at 25 it would, quite obviously, be a very different whisky. People in denial about this, including Morgan, should simply wake up and realize that they’re either selling, or being sold, a pretty silly bill of goods.

    Quality IS in the eye of the beholder, and it boils down to what you appreciate in a whisky (and what you appreciate in one whisky as opposed to another, and they can be different), but if one of the things valued is relative complexity, that comes with the formation of tertiary flavours and aromas – formed out of the interaction between primary (still) flavours and secondary (finishing or casking) flavours – and those don’t show up without being allowed the time required for their formation. Vanilla has become the new flavour for the whisky available (and affordable) to the rank and file in more ways than one, and youth has become the new “good” simply because it’s what can be provided to a generation of whisky drinkers that never really had an opportunity to experience relative tertiary complexity anyway, although a lot of producers have experimented with multiple secondary (casking) flavours to try to compensate for this.

  9. In other whisky news, I have to give credit where it’s due; Whisky Advocate might actually be reporting on an interesting story: http://whiskyadvocate.com/2016/11/30/23588/#comment-460057

    • And this has WHAT precisely to do with Lagavulin 8 (other than the fact that the whiskey in question has a number 8 on the bottle)?

      • Oh, sorry, I didn’t see your thread police badge, so I don’t have a “precise” answer for you; I plead “no explanation”. Mea culpa (of something). The “number 8 connection”, however, was something that I missed entirely, so I guess you must have, at least, clicked on the link.

        The point, of course, IS my transgression, not the story – which you didn’t care about, I suppose – but I thought it was interesting to see something on WA that was actually news and not just an ad in disguise. The old test for news was “something that someone, somewhere, doesn’t want someone else to read” and WA hasn’t printed anything like that in quite some time, and THAT’s news in itself.

        Cheers!

        • Jeff, thanks for the link. I’m one of the (many?) regular readers that WA has lost over the past year or two. That was a (rare!) worthwhile story over there. This Susannah Skiver Barton must be a real muckraker!

          • Yeah, I thought the story was interesting, not only in the actual news content, but from the editorial balls it took to print it. You just don’t see non-promotional whisky journalism done by the big boys who then have to go back to the same small group of story targets and ask for next week’s story access and ad revenue. I’ve sometimes wondered if it’s harder to keep these publications running or to look yourself in the mirror while you do it.

            The last lines –

            “Have you noticed a decline in the quality of Old Charter 8 since the switch? Would the presence of an “8” on the bottle lead you to believe this whiskey is at least 8 years of age? Tell us about it in the comments.”

            is a MAJOR step away from promotion, and what, actually INVITING industry criticism instead of mindless praise (and then calming the waters when that sometimes goes awry)? We’re in danger of creating a whisky press here.

            Cheers!

  10. And, in passing –

    “If I was the one who had control over teeming warehouses of slumbering Lag I think I would have taken it upon myself to build something a little more…spectacular. Perhaps an 18 year old. Or something to rival the Feis Ile or Jazz Fest releases. But still at a reasonable price point.” – if you’re still thinking of joining the industry, and its people read this, don’t expect to be put into R&D or warehouse management any time soon. LOL!

    Cheers!

  11. Is it possible at some point to go back to the not-so- distant past and talk about how a whisky tastes and smells and whether we like it or not?

    • Sure, go ahead – it IS All Things Whisky, after all; from what I can tell, many are largely oblivious to the rest of this stuff anyway, or it makes their heads hurt.

      Cheers!

      • You mean it’s not just “All things Jeff’s NAS rant” dot com?

        • Who ever stopped you from saying your silly stuff, or from resorting to lame personal attacks when you, very frequently, don’t have a rational leg to stand on? Not me.

          As far as I’m concerned, other people are free to do whatever they want to do about NAS (emphasis on “they” and “do”) – but it’s very accurate to say that, in the case of my critics, that usually currently boils down to doing nothing or even occasionally acting as industry apologists.

          Instead of people getting off their asses on this issue, those who won’t read are writing coaches, people who won’t fight are tactical consultants. Seems legit. Again, it’s the old issue of people who are part of the solution, part of the problem, or just part of the landscape. My critics know where they fit… and I know where they fit as well.

          Cheers!

          • I think our learned friends are trying to imply that while the issue is important, it would be more pleasant if the anti-NAS stuff would be kept to NAS debate threads (and by all means keep them active), and the review threads focus for the most part on the particular whisky in question.

            It would be the considerate thing to do.

            It would be effective. It would also help focus the discussion and would probably more effective, especially for people interested in the topic.

            And you could avoid having to be repetitive.

            But there is no law that says you have to be considerate, effective or economical with your words.

            Athena, Goddess of Wisdom.

          • Athena, you do realize that Kallaskander posted some Nick Morgan garbage about age’s effects on these 2016 Lagavulins, which Jeff then responded to, right?

            Does Jeff sometimes force the conversation to NAS? Yes.

            Did he here? No.

            Did you still (and dare I say, REPETITIVELY) slam him for it? Yes.

  12. Currently drinking Rock Oyster. Interesting and not bad, esp. for only $50. I keep trying to figure out which Islay and Orkney whiskies are in it, but I’m assuming Scapa and Caol Ila. Definitely get the Jura taste. And definitely young (<10 YO). I'd say 84. Might buy again, but the Laga 8 is $53, so I'd pick it first. (Note the tie-in to the current review, so I'm not totally off topic).

  13. Veritas, Athena, Skeptic,

    Should we all get together and invite Jeff to join us for a dram?

    Don’t know how he would take to be outnumbered 4 to 1.

    Where would be a central location…. Winnipeg? In February? With some 5 YO Octomore? Cask strength regardless of actual ABV?

    • No bashing Winnipeg in February comments please. It’s probably really cold but maybe not. Come for Festival du Voyageur and you won’t even notice the cold, the Caribou will take care of that.

  14. God!!! Poured a goodly dram of WT 101, dropped in some ice, and sipping my way to euphoria!!! Concentrating on the wonderful flavours I’m experiencing! Only $20/bottle for this exotic and satisfying whiskey that possibly contains some Eight (8; ocho; acht; huit) year old whisky. Should be in every home, office, whatever. And did I mention there may be some eight year old whiskey in it?

  15. Woo hoo! WT 101 is the best whisk(e)y value in the universe! Yee haw!! And there’s eight year old whisk(e)y in it! Damn!! Bottle’s empty!

    • Have you tried Old Gran Dad 114? It is being discontinued. I suggest you buy 8 bottles from ACE spirits online at $20 each

      • Hmmmm. Thanks for the suggestion. Tried it and it’s not my flavour profile. I know others love it, and I tried a bottle, but never found it to my tastes. Just saw on connosr that Bookers price is supposed to jump 50+%. Now that one is definitely in my profile and I’ll be out buying tomorrow. I’d advise others to do the same. Bourbon’s apparently now being affected by people like me who are buying less scotch and more bourbon.

        • Yes, Nasty people like you who refuse to let the Scotch industry take advantage of you.

          I will miss OGD 114. It is, in my opinion, the best under $20 whisk(e)y out there. Also the best under $40 whisk(e)y.

          And it rivals some I have tasted that cost over $100.

          • Any source on WT 101 having eight year old whiskey (of some unknown concentration) in it?

          • I’ve never tasted or purchased it so I couldn’t say. There may be 8 year old pigments in the ink on the label…

          • I appreciate the honesty, but tasting it or buying it wouldn’t really answer the question.

          • But his post suggests he hasn’t taken an interest in it which is why he doesn’t know

          • Sure, and as mine indicates, buying and tasting a product doesn’t give anyone age information, whether that’s the definition of an interest or not.

          • Perhaps, but buying and tasting suggests, rightly or wrongly, a greater interest in the product than never having it on your radar at all.

            Not every comment requires an antagonistic response.

          • Perhaps, but I was asking a clear question,and, not surprisingly, I can’t get at an answer on the basis of what everyone on this site “doesn’t know” or on the basis of their “interest” in product that has no bearing on the question.

            Cheers!

  16. Blend of 6, 7, and 8 YO. Absolutely wonderful elixir! Rare Breed is 6, 8, and 12. They (the Russell’s) don’t like whiskey over 12 YO. Noe Booker didn’t like it over 14, as it gets too woody. From the stuff I’ve had, 8-12 is optimal.

    • Note I mentioned 8 three times. BTW, had a dram of Laga 8 tonight.
      Really good for the price, but you can really tell it’s an 8 YO whisky.

  17. I got a chance to buy and try this recently and, yes, “good malt, not quite great” is pretty apt. Probably pretty close to the competition’s QC in composition/presentation, it has a lot of the attack of the 12 CS, but not enough of the depth (or power) to quite follow it up, or to do well by direct comparison to the Lag 12, 16 or DE. It’s certainly alright for what it is – and Diageo SHOULD be clearly congratulated for being forthright about that in the present day and age – but, hopefully, some time and space on the bottle will also give it a little more definition; a tiny bit of added 16 did wonders for bringing this 8 into line (multivintaging at work!).

    If this is some sort of answer to the QC (and, actually, not really a bad one, if one takes the QC in the realistic larger context of other Laphs; nobody really “reinvented whisky” with the QC either), it’s quite possible that, with a couple more years on it, Lag could also have an answer to Ardbeg with a solid moneymaking 10 here.

    Sláinte!

  18. I am 100% convinced that Lagavulin 8 would earn NONE of the praise it currently enjoys if it were the exact same whisky in a different label—i.e., if it did not proclaim itself as a Lagavulin.

    It’s nasty.

    It has that same young nastiness that you get in other undercooked peaters. You ever had a Big Peat, especially a CS “Christmas” edition of Big Peat? THAT is the nastiness I’m talking about. Rough. A little gag-inducing. Like bad mezcal.

    Other, similar-on-paper, young peaters I’ve enjoyed do NOT have that nasty quality: Ardbeg Ten, Laphroaig QC, Kilchoman Machir Bay, NAS Port Charlottes, etc.. But Lagavulin 8 does. They’re doing something wrong—tired casks?

    In my opinion, it’s crap whisky trading on an esteemed band name.

    • I liked it. A little more than Big Peat but I liked that too.

      • Maybe “double-young” peat just has a certain quality to it that I think is gross, despite my overall love for peated whisky.

        So you like Lag 8 and you also like Big Peat. What about Smokehead? It’s been a few years since I tried that, but I recall that it too had that nasty youth to it that I hate.

    • I liked it too. Took a bit of air time and a bit of water, but all the Lag DNA was there. Maybe try it again with a bit of time on it.

      • Mine’s been open for about six months, I think, with no improvement. If I had enough headspace in my Six Isles bottle that I’ve been dumping stuff into, it all would have gone into there.

        You perceive some Lag DNA? Have you tried in blind in a lineup with similar young peaters? (I admit that I haven’t done so either, but that’s partially because its nasty gag-inducing core is so conspicuous to me that I’d see it coming from a mile away.)

    • So does that mean you don’t like Lagavulin 12, as this tastes like an 8 YO version of that. I’ve liked the two bottles I’ve had, and I’m glad if they do add it to the lineup.

      • Good question. I do like Lagavulin 12, or least the one bottle I ever had (2014). Fresh, clean, powerful, and just mature enough, I’d say.

        To me, the 8 and the 12 aren’t all that similar.

    • I am a little curious as to where MadSingleMalt puts Lag 8 out of 100. That said, I think it’s true that, as an an undeclared, it probably wouldn’t command the same price point, if not respect, that it does now; being able to put “Lagavulin” on it is probably worth an extra 20%.

      According to Wine-searcher:

      Lag 8: $84 CAD and an average score of 88
      Lag 16: $94 and score of 90, while…

      Smokehead: $58 with an average score of 87 and
      An Oa currently goes for $80 with no average score determined on Wine-searcher (but an 86.75 on Whiskybase) and
      Ardbeg 10 goes for $67 with an average score of 89.

      I think it’s far more likely that Smokehead is Ardbeg than Lag, but my point was what you lose on price, if not respect, as an undeclared.

      Sláinte!

      • Jeff, I think I’d put Lag 8 at around 70-75. It’s not swill and maybe I’m exaggerating its flaws here somewhat, but to me it is NOT a high-quality whisky. I know I’m repeating myself, but it has this certain mezcalish nasty core that really turns me off.

        If I had the right open bottles at the moment, I would LOVE to do a blind lineup of the following:

        •Ardbeg Ten

        •Port Charlotte Islay Barley

        •Kilchoman Machir Bay

        •Longrow Peated

        •A young indie Caol Ila

        •Lagavulin 8

        •Big Peat

        Based on memory, I would rank them in that order I listed them there.

        • Yes, all of this raises good points, including the “redefinition” of quality, for which the creation of modern young peated whiskies, often without the benefit of superior or luxurious casking, has been very legitimately the very debatable front line. How desirable is peat to some, just as a flavour, and how many flaws can it compensate for in otherwise pretty raw expressions?

          I see similarities between Lag 8 (and, yeah, it’s an 80-something for me) and Lag 12, but the latter, beyond having the advantage of cask strength, is a more round and complete product. As some have also noted, the 16 is far from being in anything like a steady state: http://www.whiskyfun.com/2017/Lagavulin-16-a-wee-odyssey.html. Is just something “feeling” like Lagavulin enough now? Maybe for some, at this point in history – particularly when you also have ready access to the real thing in any case and not really trapped by current production trends. In many ways, we’re being told “everything is alright” by people who really know that everything isn’t, and who created their bunkered escape plan decades ago for just such a situation.

          It also raises another interesting issue in terms of scarcity, where cask time is seen as a resource that can either be concentrated in relatively few bottles or diluted into a great many. It’s tempting to see current trending as the industry being trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea and “providing” passable whisky to a great many instead of better whisky to a relative few as some sort of public service. Age has always been expensive, and relatively rare, and is certainly going to become more so – but youth, and particularly undeclared youth, is where the real money is these days, certainly in terms of the majority of revenue generated by volume.

          Is young whisky and/or NAS a production safety valve, designed to let steam out of an overheated market? Maybe not when the valve itself is stuck open and is, itself, overheating. It creates a lot of very average, and very expensive, 80-class whisky (now, often, on an ongoing permanent basis), but maybe it’s time to demand a more honest market instead of pretending that we’re seeing products that are new and improved. Whisky romance and hyperbole are becoming very expensive commodities. The current frenzy on whisky’s ground floor is going to push anything 10 years or older increasingly out of reach for many, not because of anything that “needs to be done” by whisky producers as some service to the public, but just because of what it means whisky producers “can do” to consumers while the hyperbole continues.

          Sláinte!

  19. There is a rumor floating around at whiskybase that Diageo is going to incorporate the 8 year old into the lineup on a regular basis.

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