Distiller: Lagavulin. Region: Islay. ABV: 48%. Price: $55.
The Lagavulin 16 is my desert island whisky. It’s my go-to for celebrations and times of mourning. It’s my absolute favorite and while some come close–very close–for me, I want my last dram on this earth to be the Lagavulin 16.
And so, of course, I couldn’t resist the pull of the recently released Lagavulin 8. This limited release commemorates the 200th anniversary of the esteemed Islay distillery, and was inspired by an 1887 visit by the whisky writer Alfred Barnard–whose seminal tome The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom remains one of the great achievements in whisky writing. Barnard commented that the 8-year-old Lagavulin of more than a century ago was “exceptionally fine,” and the distillery sought to honor that comment with this release.
Mission accomplished, folks. For a young Lagavulin, the 8-year-old is worth every penny of the $55 MSRP. The nose is somewhat delicate. I caught citrus, lapsang souchong tea, and the brine of driftwood. The palate brings the peat and then some. It’s every inch a Lagavulin, getting more pungent and smokier in the glass, with underlying hints of tobacco and spice. The finish is far more sustained than I would have thought. The smoke dissipates slightly, leaving you with the slowly dying embers of the best campfire you’ve ever known.
Friends, if you can find it, buy it. Here’s to growing old with our favorites, even as they surprise us in wonderful ways. – TM