Review: Lagavulin 18 Years Old 2016 Feis Ile

Category: Islay single malt scotch whisky

Origin: Lagavulin Distillery

Bottling: Diageo

ABV: 49.5%

Cost: £125 from Lagavulin Distillery [sold out]

lagavulin-feis-2016

What they say:

The Lagavulin Festival bottling comes from a blend of refill American Oak and ex Bodega European Oak casks. Bottled at cask strength, it will be a limited edition run of 6,000 bottles. RRP £125.

Georgie Crawford’s tasting notes in brief: Rose gold in colour, the Lagavulin 18 Year Old has an initially shy nose which opens up to offer complex rich, spicy notes with a nod to marzipan, dark dried fruits and star anise. Lovely fresh notes from the American oak and some menthol nose tickle. The taste is sharp but sweet, a subtle tannin background with a lovely long lasting finish. Slight saltiness gives way to a gentle roll of smoke across the tongue. Hints of soft fruits and plain chocolate balanced with rich wood character. 

What I say:

Bottled by Lagavulin for Feis Ile 2016. This was Dram #5 from Moxie’s Festivus for the rest of us #2 (2016 edition). A rare chance for those unable to make either the Campbeltown Malts Festival or Feis Ile (Islay Festival of Malt & Music) to sample some of the bottlings that were exclusively on offer.

Colour:

Light amber gold (8/20), oily/viscous, slow, small tears leave fine legs

Nose:

Dried spices and fruits, prunes and raisins, a little plum and bramble jam, a mixture of powdered cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, slightly cloying sweetness as dried fruit gives way to vanilla essence and aniseed, though there is a nice caramel/toffee sweetness present too, hints of cocoa powder

Taste:

Rich dark treacle and viscous on the palate, hints of spice and peat smoke burst out, dark chocolate-coated cinder toffee, plenty of tannic oak wood, bbq banana with melted dark chocolate buttons, malted cereal barley and malt extract, smoked treacle, tarry rope/hessian, spiced black & sichuan pepper, liquorice sticks and salted caramel

Finish:

Long, sooty peat smoke, spiced and tannic wood, treacle toffee

Overall:

Power and complexity rule here, another dram that is more than the sum of its parts, plenty of (for me) slightly dangerous territory such as pepper and liquorice but such a heavyweight of dark oak wood and malt, spices and rich fruit that it holds together nicely. More refined than the 16 Years Old – yes, less ‘shouty’ than the PX distiller’s edition – definitely. This Lagavulin is a boxing glove wrapped in a smoking jacket.

Score: 89/100

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