I was not aware until a few minutes before I purchased this bottle from a store in the EU that Lagavulin is now putting out a 10 yo whisky. It was apparently first released in 2019 and is a travel retail exclusive. Which does not explain how I purchased it from a regular store but doubtless there’s an explanation: it does seem to be available at a number of stores in the EU. The more surprising thing is that I did not notice it in duty free shops on the way to or back from India in early 2020 but the explanation for that may well be that I did not really look closely, having long before given up on the possibility of finding good value for anything in a duty free shop. If I missed this a year ago then shame on me. Especially since it’s priced quite reasonably for an age-stated whisky from a name distillery. I’m not sure what relationship it bears to the other whiskies in Lagavulin’s core range, especially the only slightly younger 8 yo (which I was not as enamoured of as some). It is made from spirit matured in “rejuvenated and ex-bourbon casks”. Theoretically that should put it closer to the all ex-bourbon limited edition 12 CS as the 16 yo has some sherry cask involvement. But the proof is in the glass. Let’s see what it’s like.
Lagavulin 10 (43%; from my own bottle)
Nose: Big charred notes off the top (wood and meat) along with tobacco. The phenols come swirling out from below on the second sniff and it gets more tarry, more heavy. More oak as it sits and there’s a sour note somewhere between lemon and very tart apple. With time there’s a farmy/organic quality to the smoke. A few drops of water soften up the heavier notes and some cream emerges.
Palate: Comes in as predicted by the nose but the tobacco is heavier here. Rich and weighty at 43%. More tarry here too on the second sip. More phenolic seemingly with every sip and that organic quality manifests here too—think wet mossy tree bark (or what I imagine it might taste like). The tart notes emerge as well after a bit. Not too much change after that. Water brings out more of the acid here too but it’s still all about the phenols.
Finish: Long. The char is the dominant note here and it expands quite dramatically, picking up pepper before slowly fading out. Less char with water.
Comments: Whatever they’ve done with the oak has not resulted in an artificially oak-driven spirit, far from it: if anything it’s Lagavulinness seems emphasized. It also seems to me to have more in common with the 16 yo than with the 12 yo even though the latter is also from bourbon casks. Anyway, I’m not going to say that there’s anything very complex happening here but if you’re looking for a big bruiser of a peated whisky at a reasonable price this is for you (if you’re passing through an international terminal or have access to a store in the EU).
Rating; 87 points.