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