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Monday, June 13, 2016

Single Malt Report: Lagavulin 8 year old 200th Anniversary Limited Edition

2016 marks Lagavulin distillery's 200th birthday.  In honor of that nice big round number they released......an eight year old whisky.  My first reaction was, hee hee wut?

Last year, Laphroaig dropped a whole slew of celebratory releases of different ages for their 200th birthday.  For Ardbeg's 200th birthday, the distillery released an odd mish mosh NAS whisky which was their worst Ardbeg Day release yet.  So Lagavulin (read: Diageo) took this third approach.  They put out an 8 year old (age statement!) whisky at a respectable ABV (48%) and keep the fake colorant out of it.  I appreciated those three factors, but it still seemed like a "oh crap we need to release something" approach.  The good news is that it doesn't cost $100.  The less than good news is that it seems to go for relatively the same $$$ as the regular 16 year old.  The best news is that it's good whisky.

Distillery: Lagavulin
Owner: Diageo
Maturation: refill American oak and European oak casks
Age: minimum 8 years
Release date: 2016
Limited edition: 20,000 bottles
Chill-filtration? No Possibly
Caramel coloring? No Yep, mit farbstoff, as per German retailers
Alcohol by Volume: 48%
(sample provided by Brett from his own purchased bottle. Thanks, Brett!)

The color is a very light amber.  No e150a here.

The nose leads with peat smoke (duh), anise, hay, boat fuel exhaust, and cocoa powder.  Then toasted bread crusts and dried seaweed with hints of dried lavender and raisins.

There's a good rich tobacco note in the palate which is joined by mint and basil leaves.  A light herbal bitter nip is met well with a mellow sweetness.  With time, a smoked almond note develops.  The peat rings in loudly but it never overwhelms the rest of these characteristics.

Peat and salt arrive and stay the longest in the long finish.  Some black pepper, good bitterness, and dried cherries appear as well.  That peat gradually shifts from smoke to ash.

WITH WATER (~43%abv)
The nose is similar to its neat state.  Maybe a little more floral, with hints of dried stone fruits and dried berries, along with a whisper of vanilla.

Not much change in the palate either.  More smoked nuts, more smoke, and some lemon tartness.  It does seem to pick up a thicker mouthfeel.

The finish is similar too.  Slightly bitterer and tarter with a new smoked nuts note.

Like last year's Laphroaig releases, this Lagavulin seems scheduled to hit the California shelves last.  First it shows up in the UK, then Europe, then East Coast USA, then The Midwest USA.  There must be some distribution issues going on, again.

Anyway, I like this whisky.  It's a brisk raw alternative for those who love the 16yo.  It's also sort of a lighter version of their annual 12yo Cask Strength edition, though due to its age and lack of oak influence it's anything but soft.  Having now tried it, I do appreciate that Lagavulin elected to release this whisky and I wish they'd make it a regular member of the range.  Which, of course, they won't.

If you can find it for under $60, and you're a fan of the 12yo, then I recommend this one.  But if you're seeing it selling for $70+ -- 20,000 bottles is not that limited and this stuff is all of 8 years old -- then you might want to split a bottle with some friends.  Or just not buy it.  That'll be my own approach.

Availability - East Coast USA and Europe
Pricing - $55 (yay) - $80 (boo)
Rating - 87