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Friday, June 17, 2016

Single Malt Report: Islay Distillery 8 year old 2007 Exclusive Malts, cask 1601

I reviewed the 7 year old 2007 single cask yesterday.  Today I'm posting about the 8 year old 2007.  I tasted these two very different whiskies side by side a few nights ago.  I was a big fan of the 7yo, let's see how the 8yo fares.

Distillery: Lagavulin
Ownership: Diageo
Independent Bottler: Creative Whisky Company
Range: Exclusive Malts
Age: 8 years (October 17, 2007 - February 2016)
Maturation: probably a refill hogshead
Cask #: 1601
Bottles: 320
Alcohol by Volume: 56.2%

Its color is amber, much lighter than yesterday's younger whisky.

The nose is rawer, yeastier.  It's lemony and very vegetal.  Cruciferous veg, probably.  There's also some vinegar, cucumber, sweat, and plenty of moss.  Hints of bacon and Dove soap.

There's burnt rubber and burnt ham in the palate.  If yesterday's Lag was steaky, this one is porky.  But its biggest note, that almost overwhelms, is hot cinnamon candy.  There's also brown sugar, basil, and ethyl.

Brown sugar, cinnamon, ethyl heat, burnt rubber, and dry cheese in the finish.  It's sweeter than the palate.  There's a slight sourness to it and the heat lasts the longest.

WITH WATER (~43%abv)
The nose remains vegetal, but it also picks up an herbal quality.  It's a little floral with gentle peat and wood smoke.  Some cardamom too.

Still some heat in the palate.  Hot cinnamon candy leads the way.  Some salt.  A decent herbal bitterness like a German digestif.

Almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and the sour note in the finish.

This one embraces its youth, trending towards the Classic of Islay style, though at thrice the price.  You're going to have to like young raw peated stuff if you're chasing this bottle.  Though I usually prefer less oak in my scotch, I found the 7yo's rich barrel gave it more complexity, character, and thrills than the 8 and its (possible) refill barrel.

The nose is the best part of this whisky, though I enjoy its type of challenge.  The palate and finish prove narrow, but are still of interest.  I think the whole thing benefits from some water.  If you've already purchased this one, I recommend hydrating it a bit, adding a little water at a time to find its sweet spot.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I don't really understand the pricing on these anonymous Islays.  Nor can I fathom the massive €€€ on the infant Caol Ila single casks (via other European independent bottlers) now hitting shelves in Europe.  Is everyone just chasing Kilchoman's single cask prices (of which 5yos often sell for $130+) at this point?  And is that wise?  Whisky Dave, Mr. Exclusive Malts, commented on yesterday's post about the expense, and I do look forward to some more thoughts from him on this issue, because these baby Islay price hikes may ultimately lead to a shrinking customer base.

Availability - Many US specialty retailers
Pricing - $150ish
Rating - 83