Lagavulin

Lagavulin 1994 Distillers Edition (43%, OB, lgv.4/498, 2010)

Whisky Review: Lagavulin 1994 Distillers Edition

Lagavulin-Distillers-Edition-1994

What they say

This is the definitive Islay malt – untameable, with the strongeast peat flavour of any of the malt whiskies from this wild island shore. Its dry, complex strength of character, with characteristic notes of sea-spray, is perfectly matched by the sweet accents of sun-dried grapes derived from the Pedro-Ximinez cask-wood in which this special edition has been doubly matured.

Lagavulin-Distillers-Edition-1994-single-malt-scotch-whisky

What I say

Purchased from World of whiskies at Edinburgh Airport, and toured round icy Oslo. My main reason for wanting this was due to the number of people who either recommended Lagavulin or had heard that Lagavulin was THE Islay malt to try. Similar to the Old Pulteney WK209 Good Hope this is also a sherry finish whisky, i.e. at some point this has been transferred into Pedro Ximinez sherry casks to take on some of their flavour.

Lagavulin is one of the three Kildalton Distilleries in the south of Islay and sits comfortably in between Ardbeg and Laphroaig at the “Hollow by the Mill”, translated from the Gaelic lag a’mhuilin. Lagavulin is pronounced as La-ga-voolin

Lagavulin Distillery officially dates from 1816, though records show illicit distillation on the site as far back as 1742. Originally there were two distilleries operating on this site, the first established in 1816 believed to be named “Kildalton”, and the second in 1817 named Lagavulin. There were also other small distilleries on the same site, Malt Mill Distillery and Ardmore Distillery.

By 1837 there was only the one distillery, “Lagavulin” occupied by Donald Johnston. The still house was rebuilt in 1962 and incorporated the stills of the Malt Mill Distillery and in 1996 a new mashtun was installed, and automated controls put in place. The visitor centre dates back to 1998 and was established in the buildings that once were the maltings and kiln of Malt Mill Distillery.

Lagavulin Distillery on Islay

Lagavulin Distillery on Islay

Lagavulin Single Malt Whisky is characterized by its strong peat flavour and iodine overtones. The iodine flavour tends to divide tasters into love it or hate it groups with no middle ground, and it may not be suitable for new Scotch drinkers. The standard Lagavulin single malt is 16 years old, though they have also released a 12 year old cask strength variety, as well as their Distiller’s edition, finished in Pedro-Ximenez casks. Phenol levels running at 40 p.p.m.

Lagavulin is produced by White Horse Distillers which is owned by United Distillers & Vinters which in turn is owned by Diageo plc. Lagavulin was chosen to represent Islay Single Malts in UDV’s Classic Malts of Scotland.

Tasting notes:

  • Colour: Red Gold.
  • Nose: Sweet peanut, creosote, toffee and peach.
  • Taste: Light and smooth in the mouth this is a very fruity whisky with raisins, morello cherries, honey and cloves which compliments the massive peat smoke flavour.
  • Finish: Long and smoky with a hint of sweet candied peel that lingers.

Would I buy it again:

Yes! this is a perfect balance between the deep smoke Lagavulin and sweet sherry from the PX casks.  Although these are released yearly with some batch to batch variation, more recent versions have been met with as much good [and similar] reviews.

Score 90/100

Shop for Lagavulin Distillers Edition (Master of Malt)

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3 replies »

  1. This is one I am looking to try. I love the 16 year old so much I am wondering if the desert sherry cask influence merges well with the original excellence or does it loose most of its peaty/smokey character is a sea of sweetness?

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    • My feeling is they have got this one just right. There is huge amounts of the typical Lagavulin peat smoke in there and a lot of the sherry influence from the Pedro Ximenez casks [PX is a particularly dark sherry full of raisin and treacle-like flavour and carries the highest sugar content of all sherries] but they are very well balanced so neither overpowers the other. This is more like a sea storm with waves of sweet and smoke constantly crashing over each other even throughout the finish.

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