Popular Islay distillery Lagavulin seems to be aiming for different whisky market segments as it celebrates is 200th anniversary in 2016. Earlier this year we saw the release of the reasonably priced 8-Year-Old which, at $75 a pop, was in the reach of mortal day to day drinkers. Now comes the higher end (read: more expensive) expression, a limited edition 25-Year-Old at £799, or about $1,060 USD.
The new Lagavulin 25-Year-Old, to its marketing credit, is said to be an “ode to the many craftsmen and immense skill behind making Lagavulin whisky.” To this end it is the first release of its age statement to be matured exclusively in sherry casks.
“To continue this special birthday we wanted to release a brand new bottling to Lagavulin enthusiasts worldwide,” said Nick Morgan, Diageo’s Head of Whisky Outreach, in a statement. “The 25 Year Old is a sublime expression of Lagavulin, I couldn’t think of a better way to pay homage to the distillery managers. This year our aim is to bring as many people to Islay and Islay to as many people from around the globe as possible to celebrate years of craft and passion.”
The whisky, which was bottled at natural cask strength, will only be made available through 8,000 individually numbered bottles worldwide. Official tasting notes for it are below from Lagavulin.
Appearance: Deep, red-hued chestnut. Slow, lingering
Nose: Profound, complex and dry overall. Rich yet elusive, it really takes time to open up, first offering liquid dried fruits; figs, dates or prunes, a trace of treacle toffee with almost no sweetness and a distant faintly medicinal note of wood polish, which takes on char and smoke, as with a fine old oak chest left too close to a roaring fire. Gradually you discover jammy notes with roasted meats and honey; even, a raspberry coulis. Finally, there are clean ripe red apples, mint and, in time, a whiff of sealing wax. Water brings up soft toffee and milk chocolate, sweet marzipan over sour cherries, cold smoke, burnt timbers and pine resin.
Body: Medium-rich, coating
Palate: A voluptuous, oily texture, with a bitter-sweet and gingery, slightly drying start. Intense, with masses of charred wood, oak-smoked meats, honey, burnt treacle tart and ash. Then, refreshing spearmint. Salty, then sweet, with water; gentle peat and spearmint. Now it’s soft, comforting and relaxed.
Finish: Long, smooth, sweetly honeyed and elegant, with slowly rising fragrant wood smoke, ash, salt and a subtle, chilli like heat; followed by cooling eucalyptus. Finally, oily and bittersweet, with burnt orange peel, all of it lingering deliciously. Softer with water, which brings a late, quiet pungency.
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Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...