Friday, March 14, 2014

Whisky Review: Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1996/2012

Diageo regularly puts out 'Distillers Editions' of their standard range, which are all whiskies that have been 'extra matured' in some kind of wine cask. I've covered Talisker's a couple of times before, but this is the first time trying one from another distillery.

The DE from Lagavulin gets extra time in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks, which is a particularly sweet form of sherry made from sun dried grapes.

Thanks to @JCL1118 for the sample.

Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1996/2012

Nose: something rubbery hangs over all of the odors, jammy fruit, juicy raisins, mossy peat, undercurrent of dank sherry, a touch of bacon (more with time) and something floral, malt buried under everything else, with a growing cedar note over time. After adding a few drops of water, the sherry retreats a bit in favor of mossy peat and greener notes, with more oak and malt, plus a touch of vanilla and salt.

Taste: sherried sweetness that waxes and wanes across the palate, peppery oak comes in strong mid-palate then slowly fades, some of the apples I found in Lagavulin's new make (but with an unpleasantly sour edge) near the back, peat waits until the back to show up. After dilution, the tastes become much flatter, while the sherry retreats and tucks inside the oak but the peat holds strong, with significantly less complexity overall.

Finish: peppery oak, moderate peat, significant sherry, some malt, floral perfume (not quite in a good way)

While I found that this one improved over multiple tastings, it never presented what I would consider to be a compelling package. If you want sherry, the standard 16 Year doesn't lack (at least for the time being). Here the balance feels like it has shifted too far and the spirit has almost lost its fight with the casks. There are those who enjoy it quite a bit more, so don't take my word as final, but, especially considering the extra price that the DE commands over the standard 16 Year, it will not be finding a place on my shelf.

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