Lagavulin 11, Offerman Edition, Charred Oak

Tuesdays are normally restaurant review days on the blog. However, the World Cup has been messing with my schedule and I didn’t have time yesterday to finish resizing all the photographs from the meal I was scheduled to report on: the weekday lunch buffet at Kumar’s in Apple Valley. And so I’m going to post that tomorrow. In its place, here is the whisky review that was going to go up tomorrow.

This is the third release of Lagavulin’s Offerman Edition. The first came out in 2019. At the time I assumed it was a one-off. But then there was a second release last year, a finish in Guinness casks. And 2022 saw a third release, this one involving oak casks that were shaved down and re-charred. I’ve seen some references to the casks in question being American and European oak casks and some that specify that they were ex-bourbon and ex-red wine casks. I can tell you though that the text on the back of the box says that this particular edition (11 years old like the two previous) was “curated” to pair with a medium-rare steak. Personally, I don’t drink whisky with food but I’m not sure how seriously anyone should take any of that anyway. I think the text may be written in the voice of Ron Swanson (I cannot confirm as I still have not watched any Parks & Recreation). I liked the first two releases and hope this will be as good. Let’s see.

Lagavulin 11, Offerman Edition, Charred Oak (46%; from my own bottle)

Nose: A big phenolic blast with quite a bit of salt and some lemon. Sweeter notes emerge on the next couple of sniffs (cereals, a bit of vanilla) but the smoke and salt are the top notes. The salt and lemon merge as preserved lemon and the smoke turns a bit ashy. With a few drops of water the phenols recede and more vanilla emerges

Palate: Comes in as predicted by the nose and more or less in that order. Good drinking strength and texture. Gets a little bitter with time (but who doesn’t?), with notes of burnt rope and tar; the vanilla emerges here as well. Continues in this vein. Let’s see what a drop or two of water does for it. The smoke gets drier and the bitter notes disappear.

Finish: Long. The smoke keeps going and going even after the phenols crest; the salt emerges and takes over at the end. More bitter here too with time (creosote). As on the palate with water at first and then the salt expands.

Notes: While there is palpable vanilla in this, it’s not really the vanilla bomb I feared it might be—and nor is it over-oaked in any way. But it’s also more vanilla in a figurative sense than both last year’s Guinness finish and the original release. A good heavily peated whisky for the winter and not much more. I liked the nose better neat and the palate a bit better with water.

Rating: 86 points.



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