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Friday, August 17, 2018

Lagavulin 21 year old 1991 (thank you, Brett!)

Today's sample (and many other samples) comes from Brett, a very good man who will travel great distances, through Southern California traffic, just to share a drink and hang out. He took over the reins of the OC Scotch Club, even though he lives in Riverside.

(For those of you not from the LA area, the distance between Riverside and the usual OC Scotch Club event is roughly that of Milwaukee, WI to Uranus, Uranus.)

Just before I left California, Brett invited me over to his housee. I walked through the door and exclaimed, "OH MY GOD YOU HAVE LOT OF WHISKIES."

Actually, that's not totally true. I knew he had a lot of whiskies because he sent me a list beforehand and offered up samples. So, true to self, I arrived with a dump truck full of sample bottles. Because if I'm anything, I'm a mooch. What I did exclaim when I walked through the door was, "OH MY GOD YOU HAVE LOT OF DOGS." Brett and his awesome wife, Linda, have a jubilance of doggies. A zealous of wagging tails. A fete of little noses.

Here's the whisky:

Distillery: Lagavulin
Owner: Diageo
Type: Single Malt
Region: Southern Islay
Age: minimum 21 years (1991-2012)
Maturation: 1st Fill Ex-Sherry European Oak Casks
Outturn: 2772 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 52%

Leather, earth and dark chocolate take the fore in the nose. Cherry sno-cones, root beer barrel candies, banana bread and fruity cinnamon. The peat has grown very rich over the years, abandoning gloom for the daylight. Plums, salt and peat start off the palate. Then tart limes, cayenne pepper and paprika. A wee bit of other fresh stone fruits in the background. It gets leaner and saltier with time. It finishes meaty and very smoky, with some salt and a light stone fruit sweetness.

DILUTED TO 48%abv, or .5tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The nose gets beachier and earthier. Ginger, mint, cinnamon and orange oil. The palate intensifies. Big charred meat notes. Jalapeños and honey. Tar and hot cinnamon candy. The finish keeps its good length. It has that jalapeño and honey combo, but also a fresh fruity side.

Two observations. First, the whisky seems to get younger once water is added. Secondly, there are no routine sherry cask notes here. Both are good things in their own way. It's probably a lovely drink during a cold winter or a rainy autumn (frequent happenings in Riverside). It never fades even after 45 minutes in the glass.

The only issue is that Lagavulin makes superlative whisky. Is that an issue? Well, the 12yo cask strength releases are consistently killer. And the 2016 Feis Ile was a stonking honking flonking gem. And let us speak not but in hushed tones about the previous 21yo. So this 21 has a lot of competition from its own distillery's recent history, and it now goes for £1000 on the secondary market. Thus, I say, go find your Brett and try a sip of this whisky before paying a mortgage on the bottle.

Availability - Europe, primary and secondary, here and there, if you have the coin
Pricing - ££££
Rating - 89

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