This is the final of my 2021 Special Release review series. Where is the Lagavulin 26? Sitting on a shelf of someone who makes more money in a day than I’ll ever see in my life in a way that most people would find soul crushing, why do you ask? Thus we’re at the end.
Lagavulin 16 is still what I ask for at a bar in Toronto when the boss is paying. Why? Well a bottle costs $155 CAD here, and bars in this city sometimes attempt to pay off the bottle between 3 and 7 pours (so the range for a dram is $22 to $52). Thus most bars downtown aren’t ones I visit unless they have a varied whisky list (and actually serve it), thus I’m out because work requirements mean I have to be there. So if I have to be there, they have to pay a silly price for a smoky whisky I enjoy.
But is there more to Lagavulin out there? Well each year there’s typically a cask strength release that’s younger. While it’s gone through different names (it use to have an edition number), last year’s was Lagavulin 12 2021 Special Release. Yes there are other releases from Lagavulin, however I’m assuming you’re like me and not drinking those dust collectors unless you buy them separately.
So what’s the deal? It’s simple: Take Lagavulin, release it at cask strength, with four years less of age. Will it taste more complex, because it’s cask strength, or less complex, because it’s had less years in the cask? Also there’s no sherry casks, which we typically love with Peated whisky.
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but stink flowers from Jimmy’s shitty flowerbed emporium may still have issues. Let’s see, shall wE?
Price: € 150
Cask type: Refill American Oak
Colour: 5Y 8/6
Nose: Grassy, smoke salmon, anise, bacon, almond flour
Good balance of smoke, vegetal notes, some brine (very strong brine), and bacon.
So it smells like Lagavulin. No fruit here, the sweet side is more what you get from cured meat with spices in it versus fruit or sweet onions or (checks notes)… something called soo-gar. Interesting. Hope that takes off and totally doesn’t become the true opiate of the masses.
Taste: Peanut brittle, brine, nougat, yogurt raisin, black licorice
Nutty, sweet (now more dessert like), more anise, more brine, sweeter (guess sugar is catching on, stupid joke), and overall tastes a bit more put together than the standard 16.
Which is impressive since the 16 is pretty put together.
Finish: Bacon, anise, sea salt, red licorice, chipotle
Meaty, more anise, more brine/salt, more sugar, and some heat/pepper/earth flavour which I constantly hunt down. I love Mexican food. Or at least what little Mexican food I can get up here in the far away from Mexico North America location, aka Canada.
Conclusion: Tasty cask strength Lagavulin. Need I say more? I don’t even think I need to. I enjoy this. It’s much better than the Talisker 8. It’s complex, it’s different than the 16, and it’s fun. This is a fine release to buy if you like Lagavulin. And the price difference isn’t high enough to worry about (at least where I live).
Compared to the 14th edition 12-year Lagavulin? A tiny bit better. Let’s be frank here: If you don’t want to take a chance on a peated IB being better than your standard Lagavulin 8 or 16, then you buy this once a year, enjoy the label, and drink from it until the next year comes out.
Has this changed my mind? Not really, Lagavulin is still tasty.
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