On Wednesday we were at Laphroaig, having taken the high road across from Bowmore. Let’s go a mile up the road now to Lagavulin. This is the 8th Lagavulin released by the Whisky Exchange in their Elements of Islay series. Yes, I know this is now released by Elixir Distillers who are supposedly a separate concern but I am a simple man and it’s easier for me to just refer to all the Whisky Exchange whiskies as Whisky Exchange whiskies (please forgive me, Billy). This was apparently distilled in 2006 and vatted from two bourbon barrels. I say “apparently” because neither of these pieces of information is actually on the label. That’s what it says on Whiskybase and in reviews from people who got advance samples from the bottlers. What I don’t understand why if this info isn’t worth putting on the labels it needs to be distributed to those who talk up these whiskies before release. Again, I am a simple man. Anyway, past Elements of Islay Lg experience suggests this will be very good. Let’s see if that’s the case.
Lagavulin, Lg8 (59.5%; Elements of Islay; two bourbon barrels, supposedly; from my own bottle)
Nose: Big phenolic smoke off the top with some charred wood in there too. Coastal notes as you’d expect: brine, seashells; some lemon too. As it sits some vanilla pops out. Stray whiffs of mezcal too. With more time the lemon turns preserved and the charred note in the smoke turns leafy. A few drops of water heighten the preserved lemon and pull out some Springbank’ish saddle leather as well.
Palate: Comes in pretty much as on the nose but there’s more char in the smoke here and it expands as I swallow. Hot but not unapproachable at full strength. Not too much change with time. With water it opens up and comes into its own: the cracked pepper pops out earlier and joins the char and the whole has a sweet, barbecued meat base. Not sweet on the whole though—the preserved lemon emerges strong here as well
Finish: Long. The char continues to build and there’s quite a bit of cracked pepper too. As on the palate with water and the finish is even longer now.
Comments: This was the third pour from this bottle. I liked the first two fine but they were pretty hot and tight, even with air and water. Now, it’s opened up quite nicely. Neat, it’s just very good; with time and a few drops of water it’s excellent, developing a complexity that belies its age. I look forward to seeing how it will develop further—somehow I don’t think this bottle will survive very long past the end of the month.
Rating: 89 points.