Lagavulin, Lg1 (Speciality Drinks)

A Lagavulin from Speciality Drinks, who are part of the Whisky Exchange empire. This is from their Elements of Islay series–which feature one of the more idiosyncratically attractive (and clever) bottle/label designs that I’ve seen. More importantly all the whiskies that I’ve tasted from this series have been very good and some have been excellent–which is nice, as they’re quite expensive (these are 500 ml bottles). And this whisky, and its sibling the Lg2 (which I will review tomorrow), are extra special because indie Lagavulins are about as easy to find as reasonable assertions in the collected works of Ann Coulter.

Lg1 (56.8%, Speciality Drinks; from my own bottle)

LagavulinNose: Massive, sweet peat. A little bit cereally and then a little bit farmy. The cereal disappears but the organic/farmy note hangs around. Lots of iodine and brine: kelp, oysters, sea air. Gets more phenolic and inky with time–a little bit of tar too, and something a little savoury. With time there’s a pungent sweetness, reminiscent of fish oil (mackerel). With more time the phenols and the smoke recede and some creamy vanilla makes an appearance along with a stony, mineral note. Even later, the lemon from the palate makes itself apparent on the nose as well along with some piney/resinous. With a touch of water the lemon turns to lemon oil and the farmy peat makes a reappearance.

Palate: Sweet smoke, and a lot of it. A LOT of it. Gets sharper and more acidic with the second sip. If you are looking for a subtle whisky, this is not it. On the other hand, if the thought of being beaten about the mouth with a heavily charred mackerel appeals to you then please sit down and Madame Hildegaard will be with you shortly, you disgusting pervert. No, drinking this is nothing like being beaten about the mouth with a heavily charred mackerel; it’s more like being beaten about the mouth with a heavily charred lemon (and there’s nothing kinky about that, no). Yes, it’s all lemony and ashy now, with some lingering sweetness too (ashy limoncello?). Water gives the smoke a sharp, stony edge but doesn’t really do a whole lot more.

Finish: Long. Tangy. Like a charcoal fire was put out in my mouth. Quite a lot of salt too. Oh, water is really nice to the finish–it keeps a mild sweetness and the lemon going much longer and makes it much brighter. It is quite ridiculous how long this stays on the palate now. (And 15 minutes after I typed that last sentence there’s still a palpable ashiness in my mouth.)

Comments: Blind, I’d be just as likely to guess that this was a Laphroaig, Ardbeg or Caol Ila. In fact, in a series of blind tastings I posted a couple of years ago on a popular whisky forum I think I may have failed to identify it and the Lg2 even once as Lagavulins. No, I am not ashamed. This is very drinkable at full strength, but then again my bottle’s been open for a while. I would recommend a little water after a while, because it does bring some new things to the nose and finish. This is not the most complex whisky, but this is a profile I adore and so my rating may be a little higher than the notes might suggest on their own.

Rating: 89 points.

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