Lagavulin

Review: Cladach Blended Malt Scotch Whisky (Diageo Special Releases 2018) by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of Diageo.

Image courtesy of Diageo.

ABV
57.1%
Aging
First-fill ex-bourbon, refill American oak, refill European oak, Ex-sherry European oak
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Blend of malts from Clynelish, Inchgower, Oban, Talisker, Caol Ila, and Lagavulin

This is a relative rarity in the Diageo Special releases - a blended malt. This one is focused on coastal distilleries, hoping to convey a general maritime character. “Cladach” means shoreline.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: Diageo Special Releases 2018

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

What a nice whisky! The nose starts with toffee, mixed spice, a touch of sulphur, smoke, roasted meat, light tropical notes, washed-up seaweed, vanilla, and a touch of rubber. Slightly floral, too. The palate blooms with smoke, charred chickpeas, a kick of tropical fruit, and a touch of youth that works really well with its untamed presence. The lagavulin in it is just beautifully integrated. It is phenomenal at cask strength - it starts sweet, goes oily and tropical, then ashy, and fruity. The finish has rock pools, vanilla, clove, and cedar. It is very nice.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very Low (based on $312 - though you might get a better deal)


Review: Lagavulin 12 Year Old Limited Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Lagavulin 12.jpg
ABV
~56%
Aging
12 Years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Lagavulin (Lagavulin, Scotland)

This whisky is a limited release, but it comes around every year, so it's not very rare. It usually clocks in at a higher price than the 16 year old - this is because of the cask strength and limited nature of the release. Lagavulin is a terrific distillery for just about all their releases - I really quite like what they do.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: 2012 Release (56.1%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2012

Big, slightly sour peat. Smoke, vanilla, tar, gooseberries, smoked paprika, stewed peaches, grape, vanilla, lots of minerality, smoke, soot, seaweed, cucumber, earthy, marula, a bit briny, …terrifically complex and interesting. It’s voluptuous and creamy, with lots of peach here too. The palate shows tar, slightly burnt lentils, terrific minerality, bonfire, smoking dried leaves, tinned and fresh peaches, custard – all with perfect tannic grip. Earthy peat, too – but this doesn’t dominate. The finish is fabulous: smoking leaves, freshly baking bread, charred chickpeas, strawberry jam, vanilla, custard, brine, dried peaches, lime, cilantro, and light tannins. Top notch stuff – and the tannins are just perfect. Incredible whisky. This is the biggest, and most muscular between the regular (terrific) releases of the 16 year old and distiller's edition. It’s just so big…if this wasn’t at cask strength it would be a 92 – but the cask strength shows through so well, particularly the finish.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Very High. For a terrific batch of this, $130 was not a bad price to pay.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 2017 Special Release (56.5%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2017

Smoldering smoke, saltstone, lightly sweet, raisins, cacao butter, slightly farmy and peppery too. The palate is buttery, full of wood smoke, also including rich cacao and lots of earthiness – brilliant. Sweetness is perfectly balanced. The finish is beautiful, and rich – including roasted malt, woodsmoke, white pepper, peppery radish...dries to heather brush.

Very peppery – more than I remember. Brilliant. I’d call this one cloying, in a positive sense, with all the sweetness – but I suppose it’s never used in a good way, eh? I guess we’ll settle for "syrupy” or "syrup-laden” or something...

They are pricy, but they are good! Likely my favorite regular Islay, though I do like the Ardbeg 10, too.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Great whisky, expensive price.


Review (2018)

  • Batch: 2018 Special Release (57.8%)

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2018

I do love trying these! It’s very much in line with the above releases - though it seems a bit sweeter and a touch less rich. Burning leaves, oil, tar, marine notes, lemon, and a light waxinesss too! Spicy and smoky finish. These things are such classics. Wonderful at cask strength.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average. Great whisky, expensive price.


Review: Lagavulin Distiller's Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
16 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Lagavulin (Lagavulin, Scotland)

This is similar to the regular Lagavulin 16 years old, only it is finished in different casks - in this case PX sherry, and bottled in limited quantities as a special edition.


Review (2016)

  • Batch: Distilled 1997; Bottled 2013

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

Lots of grape here. Complex – with tar and smoke, and still lightened by fruity sweetness. It reminds me, surprisingly, of mezcal on the nose. Terrific fruitiness offsetting everything else that is going on. Peach, oranges, oak, apple seeds, lime, freeze dried vegetables – if you ever smelled them coming from a pack of instant ramen noodles. Dried apricot, salted smoked meat, The palate is sweet, balanced, contrasting dried fruits with smoke, and full of bonfire and terrific minerality. Dried, smoking leaves, maple syrup, grape, light oak, currants, clove, cinnamon, dried papaya… If the nose made you question the whisky whatsoever, the palate will not. Finishes with rich, thick, smoke, peaches, creaminess, almond oil, ash, and light oak. Oh Lagavulin…. Terrific. The finish, as usual, with Lagavulin is just unbelievable.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, based on $160 (which means it’s good enough to offset the cost and still stay as an “average” value buy).


Review: Lagavulin 16 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
43%
Aging
16 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Lagavulin (Lagavulin, Scotland)

Lagavulin is located on Islay, one of the legendary places of whisky - if not the most famous. It was one of the original 6 Diageo classic malts which set out to show the different regions and styles of producing Scottish whisky (they have since expanded the "range" signficantly). This 16 year old comes in at 43%, and is certainly a very different malt (and less expensive) to the 12 year old bottled at cask strength.

I love the way it is presented…a thick box, with lots of little details like the distillery picture and Isla embossed on the bottle and box, along with the Lagavulin logo.


Review (2014)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: L4245CM000 06086321

  • Bottling Date: ~2013

Nose: New leather comes out fairly clearly, and the smoke is very present –  smoked sausage, salty smoked jerky, bonfires with a few damp leaves added in…and we also have apples, vanilla custard, some fresh bread, and even some berry notes – but dried, like dried cherries. The smoke isn’t necessarily the booming forefront of the nose, but it is found in every crevice and corner, holding it all together. The nose doesn’t jump out incredibly – it takes some time to open up – but I do verymuch enjoy it.

Taste: A soft, sweet entry with a bit of weight and smoke before some tree fruit come in mid-palate – pears, perhaps – and then the smoke, caramel, and earthiness from the peat slowly ramp up to take over with a tiny bit of heat. It’s beautifully sweet – not too sweet but rather balanced by the smoke and the fruit and the rich, dense oak; perhaps why I find it so drinkable. Smoky, rich, fabulous…

Finish: The smoke lingers, and lingers, and lingers. There is some fruit as well – apples and pears, and it is a complex finish. You can almost wonder at the finish as long as you can the whisky – it coats your mouth and almost makes you feel as though you still have the whisky in your mouth. After some time, you get a bit of mossiness from the peat – but it’s fabulous. And for sure, it’s a resilient finish – I brushed my teeth last night and could taste the whisky even after that! The finish is a bit sweet as well, which is always pleasant, with a touch of salt – reminding me of salted caramels.  There are even some flavours of chickpeas as well after a good bit of time….it’s sweet, long, tasty…I don’t know if there’s much more I could want in a finish.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, even at $120 - this is just awesome stuff.


Review: Lagavulin 8 Year Old Single Islay Single Malt Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48%
Aging
8 yrs
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Lagavulin (Lagavulin, Scotland)

Lagavulin's 200th anniversary bottling, released to commemorate the visit of Alfred Barnard (and early British distilling historian) to the distillery in the 1880s when he tasted an "exceptionally fine" eight year old from the distillery. Phenomenal to see such a fabulous scotch whisky with an age statement under ten years.


Review (2017)

  • Batch: 200th Anniversary

  • Bottling Code: L6243CM000 57079358

  • Bottling Date: 2016

A fascinating nose – smoky, sweet, dry – burning leaves, lemon zest, toffee, and light youthfulness – but the distillate is so nice that you don’t mind much. Mineral character- round washed stones, rockpools, cucumber,  lightly creamy....the palate is brilliant. It starts lightly smoky – creamy, sweet, and then smoke, minerality, and black pepper build into an incredible smoky finish with mineral notes and spice. Nice dried burning leaves. Incredible....serious smoke and malt on the finish, black pepper.

Definitely lagavulin, and I love it. Nice and dry, too – terrific balance. Not the complexity, oak, or sweetness of the 16, but more smoky, which is quite nice. I hope this becomes a staple in the lineup.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: High, even at $100.