Yep. I hate to say it, but we still have yet to fully emerge from this age of ‘style over substance’. An entire range of (rather boring) entry level malts from the mighty Diageo hyped up by the runaway success of the monolithic Game of Thrones franchise. Marketing BS at its apex. All I can say? Blech. The concept, I mean. Not necessarily the whiskies. Maybe it’s simply wishful thinking on my part, but I do believe we’re starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. Age statements are making a comeback (including from the rather confrontation Macallan family), prices are seeing small true-ups (looking at you, Mortlach) and less goofy-named releases are bogging down headlines on the whisky wire. Fingers crossed that sanity is finally prevailing.
But this GoT Laga? Well…what can I say? It is unquestionably a part of the overarching dough-headedness, but at the same time, it is at least being offered a) at a fair price; b) at a decent abv; and c) with an age statement. I guess we’ll cut a little slack here, aye?
This isn’t bad whisky. In fact, bad whisky is a relative scarcity from Islay’s Rolls Royce of distilleries. And we should all know by now that peated malts are quite tasty when they’re served up this young and hot, right? Yup. But I can’t say I’m in love with the casks chosen for this vatting. I get a bit romantic for Lagavulin. Can’t help it. I love the history behind it and the tales of resilience that backstop some of these archaic and beloved distilleries. But even a profound bias in favor of the producer isn’t enough to make me want to actually buy one of these. It takes a bit more than the crushing weight of the marketing machine’s wheels to make me part with my shekels these days.
But…credit where credit is due: they did at least give it to us at 46%. Well done, Diageo. (But how sweet would it be if they opted to up the bottling strength of the iconic 16 y.o. to 46% as well? Sigh. A dream. A very lovely dream.)
Nose: Sweet, malty gristy notes. Damp Band-Aids. Smoke (but not too pungent). Lime. A faint suggestion of pineapple. Honeydew. Green jelly beans. Pepper and powdered ginger. Starfruit. A nice briny-ness. Iodine. Decent spices and some minerality behind what feels like an almost artificial fruit sweetness.
Palate: Surprisingly prickly arrival. Very sweet, right up front, but immediately darkens into shades of black licorice and tar. Some more of those malty notes follow and weave throughout. Dirty, oily smoke. Brioche. Fresh smoked oysters. More citrus and some vanilla. Popsicle sticks. Ultimately, though…it seems kinda flat.
Finish: Slightly tannic, but just slightly. And surprisingly, a bit like heavy cream stirred into lemon curd. Then under ripe pear skins and oak. Reminds me of chewing on peated malt. Slightly ashy at the tail end. Decent mid length linger.
Thoughts: Much more impressive (and expressive!) nose than palate. Drinkable. Hard to love, though.