Islay distilleries and their whiskies explained through Rock and Roll – Part VII (of VIII)
One of life’s true treats – Lagavulin Islay single malt whisky!
Lagavulin was actually my gateway whisky. G-d bless him, one of my synagogue’s congregants (recently turned rabbi and now leads his own congregation) used to take whisky bottles to services quite a lot – usually for our “Kabbalat Shabbat” Friday evening service for our post-worship “oneg.”
Well, one night he brought a bottle of Lagavulin 16yo and damn, if I didn’t fall in love straight away! The sweet smoke, the campfire… I loved it and, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, that set me off on my whisky adventure and I never looked back.
I was going to hold this review as the final Islay/Rock review but decided to do it now because, well, it’s my blog and I decide to make an executive decision. Also, I reviewed the below whisky nearly a year and a half ago and I should have posted it… a year and a half ago!
We’re nearly there. Six down and today is the seventh Islay/Rock review and then only one more to go (can you guess which one that is?). Here’s what’s been reviewed in this series to date:
- Part one:Bruichladdich as The Sex Pistols
- Part two: Ardbeg as Slayer
- Part three: Caol Ila as The 80′s (They get their very own decade!)
- Part four:Bowmore as David Bowie
- Part five: Kilchoman as the Jackson Five (somewhat fitting, in retrospect, with them both bearing the number five).
- Part six: Bunnahabhain as R.E.M.
Today we’re reviewing:
Lagavulin 30yo bottled at 52.6% ABV – You can find a bottle here at The Whisky Exchange for £1295 or here for €499 (now sold out at the €499 price).
On the nose — Well, I smelled the stuff from two feet away (I ordered this whisky at a bar in Seattle – can’t remember the name of the bar, sorry).
Jamming my nose into it further and yup, no doubt about it, it’s Lagavulin!
Floral, smoky and even fruity.
Notes of peach and rhubarb.
Salted caramels and a touch waxy.
Fragrant oils. The smell of a well used wood panel study.
Rolos – chocolatey.
Less campfire smoke than what I’m used to with the 16yr.
On the Mouth — Hot fire-fueled fruits.
Think golden raisin and apricots. Golden fruits abound.
Waxiness from the nose translated to the taste however, the mouth feel is not as supple as the standard 16yo expression.
Light & fresh green herbs and lightly honeyed.
The wood is well integrated adding layered notes of vanilla and coconut.
Finish — A wild flower field on fire. More coconut and lasting vanilla.
In sum — The Balance is superb! Not what I expected (of course, I was expecting some sherry influence as with the 16yr but then again, I knew *nothing* about this whisky before it was put in front of me). However, it was just plain lovely. Well worth the $$ I shelled out for the ample dram.
Lagavulin – The Band!
Is it any surprise that Lagavulin is the Led Zeppelin of Islay whisky? The rock band powerhouse is the Islay powerhouse.
Like Led Zeppelin (the “Coda” album and the song “The Bridge” excepted), I can not think of one release that didn’t wow me in some way.
Think of the very successful Distiller’s Edition (some of which are legendary) and their great, 12yo cask strength yearly release. Again, cracking stuff! Lagavulin rocks and seems to have hit after hit after hit.
Is it the quality spirit, the cask choices… both? Who knows. But, like Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham, when you mix the spirit of Lagavulin and mature it in their chosen casks, it’s pure magic.
Good work, Lagavulin. Like the unparalleled Led Zeppelin, there is no whisky like you!