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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Lagavulin 2003 Distillers Edition (2019 Release)

Unlike the 12 year old CS and 16 year old, the annual Distillers Edition is a Lagavulin I've never loved, nor entirely got. It's always just fine. Sometimes the PX finish merges successfully, sometimes it doesn't (though not as hamfisted as most official fortified wine finishes), but it's always the least Lagavulin-ish of the Lagavulins. It's always easily consumable and never a debacle like Laphroaig's forays into PX. Here's a review of 2019's Distillers (no apostrophe) Edition, sampled alongside 2019's cask strength expression.

Distillery: Lagavulin
Owner: Diageo
Region: Islay
Maturation and Age: 15-16 years in bourbon casks, then a brief period of time in Pedro Ximenez casks
Release date: 2019
Batch: lgv 4/508
Alcohol by Volume: 43%
Chill-filtration? Yes
Caramel coloring? Probably
(from a purchased sample)

Bereft of Lagavulin Thunder, the nose has some ocean, ash and dried seaweed, though these notes are minor. It's mostly piney, meaty and minty with some undefinable sherried Johnnie Walker Black note. With time it picks up dark chocolate, dried cherries and mesquite chips.

The cuddly palate has some warmth, sweetness and peat, though the mouthfeel is quite thin. There are tart berries and tart stone fruits. Medicinal hints and sooty hints. It starts with lots of herbal bitterness but gradually swaps that out for more sweetness.

The finish reads gently sweet and smoky. Slightly vegetal, slightly bitter. More dried herbs and sugar with time.

The good news is that this is probably the best Lagavulin DE I've had. The double maturation shows only a light touch in the palate and finish, and though the nose is a bit light, it still has some angles. But with its low Lagavulin levels and watery texture, this one is just singing for a 46%abv non-chillfiltered bottling. It's a B-grade whisky from an A-grade distillery.

Availability - This one did make to The States (and Europe)
Pricing - $115-$135 in the US, $90-$110 in Europe (w/VAT)
Rating - 84