This is the 2001 vintage of Lagavulin’s Distillers Edition, bottled in 2017. By far the most popular of the series, this double-matured Lagavulin has had a finishing period in sweet, sticky Pedro Ximénez sherry casks. A whisky that never disappoints.
Colour: Pale gold.
On The Nose: A hit of honeyed, malty spirit. Faintly medicinal, Salbutamol syrup perhaps – and maybe a touch of ear-wax. Sweet pears, pippins. Mild wood smoke – soft as a pillow. Those familiar raspberries. And a maritime note, a whiff of the forest – clammy mulchy forest floor after the rain.
In The Mouth: Starts warming, almost too gently. It’s like Nestle’s Glo-worm and milk; the liquorish you get in chocolate mousse. Then very quickly it seems to dry out, tobacco-dry. But when you reckon there’s a definite note of brine, a drop of water reveals salted caramel, toffee sauce, peanut brittle. At the start you notice the wine influence, the sappy, leafy Syrah; then after a while there’s a definite feel of spirit-wet charred oak on the tongue, like fresh-squeezed orange juice. It only takes a mouthful to set off some serious saliva production, and the feeling is of a salty sea-breeze, like when you open the door before walking in out of the rain.
Finish: Long, with varying notes. Sometimes it’s pepper, sometimes it’s diesel oil. There’s a continual creamy slab to be re-visited.
Balance: There’s always an argument to be had about whether a whisky should retain any sherry cask influence or if it should be fully absorbed by the spirit. Here the sherry is evident throughout, adding to the dark, smokey quality. It sweetens an otherwise dry dram.