Home Fashion Every Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Ranked

Every Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Ranked

by timesverge

Lagavulin is without doubt one of the most beloved whiskies on the planet. As with many manufacturers, there isn’t only one bottle or expression to like; this firm has been placing out a core vary and yearly particular releases for a very long time. Which means there are a whole lot of bottles accumulating mud in vaults that almost all of us won’t ever see, a lot much less style. That mentioned, proper now you should buy a number of of Lagavulin’s restricted releases from the final yr earlier than they disappear into these vaults (and earlier than the following group of restricted editions drops all through 2022).

Right this moment, I’m rating the present lineup of Lagavulin. That features the core bottles, plus any particular releases which are nonetheless out there. Whether or not these bottles can be found at a specialty liquor retailer or the distillery present store actually isn’t thought of right here. That is about what’s on the market proper now to purchase, style, or perhaps save for a wet day (although I did skip a few of the a lot older releases for brevity’s sake — in any other case this listing might be dozens of whiskies lengthy).

I used to be fortunate sufficient to have the chance to style by way of all the Lagavulin line just lately on a visit to the distillery, and what makes this whisky so particular is the way in which it each exemplifies a whole regional model (Islay), and does so in an accessible means. These aren’t the peat monsters you might have heard of. These whiskies are extra about refined fermentation, distillation, and getting older that highlights nuance over bombast.

The malts for this whiskey are made on the Port Ellen malting home not removed from the distillery. Whereas the Lagavulin malts popping out of that mill are typically on the smokier aspect, the method of gradual fermentation, double distilling, after which mellowing in very previous and reused bourbon and sherry casks (amongst others) provides real subtly to this in any other case “massive” whisky.

Few whiskies on the planet spend over a decade in an ex-bourbon barrel and barely decide up any shade (Lagavulin might be very calmly hued). Which means, usually talking, that extra of the distillate from these smoky malts are shining by way of than the wooden (although not in each case). Add in particular finishings in barrels from in every single place from Japan to Mexico to Italy and also you’ll discover that there are a whole lot of thrilling issues occurring at Lagavulin — a model that’s each embracing traditions and pushing the envelope.

Let’s dive in!

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9. Lagavulin 11-Yr Outdated Offerman Version Completed in Guinness Casks

Diageo

ABV: 46%

Common Worth: $90

The Whisky:

This launch from 2021 is the second Nick Offerman collaboration with Lagavulin. That is an eleven-year-old single malt that’s then completed in Guinness stout casks for a four-month remaining maturation. That whisky is then reduce all the way down to 92 proof with Lagavulin’s personal Islay spring water.

Tasting Notes:

The briny, peated malts come by way of on the nostril with hints of black espresso beans, barely waxy cacao nibs, and a touch of creamy mint-chocolate ice cream. The palate is one half seaside campfire from a mile down the seaside and one half Milk Duds and drip espresso with hints of vanilla and pine resin lurking within the background. The end leans into the darkish cacao with a smoky edge (smoked darkish chocolate?) whereas the wooden stays dry and resinous and the briny peat gently helps the bitter but creamy mocha espresso and delicate malts.

Backside Line:

This was the toughest Lagavulin to put. It’s actually tasty however doesn’t precisely really feel like a Lagavulin. It’d make an ideal curveball in a blind tasting, and tasted blind I in all probability would’ve been fooled myself. That being mentioned, the individuality of this dram — because of that Guinness barrel — is what makes it so rattling drinkable. I don’t know. We’ve got to start out someplace on this rating so right here we’re.

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8. Lagavulin 8

Diageo

ABV: 48%

Common Worth: $66

The Whisky:

This expression was initially launched to have fun the distillery’s two hundredth anniversary. The whisky was created to imitate the juice that was being bottled again within the Eighties, throughout a excessive level in Lagavulin’s historical past. The whisky grew to become a contemporary hit and is now a part of their core line.

Tasting Notes:

The nostril is filled with honey-orange, dry and earthy malts, and a nod to chocolate-covered cherries with the slightest trace of fried cod wrapped in newspaper. The style brings a strong billow of campfire smoke with traces of darkish chocolate, burning cinnamon sticks, dry mint, and burnt potato skins (sure, actually). The top is long-ish and marries the tastes collectively, leaving you with the reminiscence of consuming a darkish mint-chocolate spiked espresso subsequent to a smoldering yard fireplace on a chilly autumn night time, whereas someplace within the distance, the ocean laps on the shore. The very finish has a whisper of latest Band-Aids nonetheless within the field.

Backside Line:

That is only a stone-cold traditional. It’s easy however deep. The truth is, I’d argue that is the quintessential Islay malt that everybody must strive a minimum of as soon as. All these citrus, spice, and darkish chocolate is difficult to not love, particularly over some rocks after an extended day of labor.

7. Lagavulin 12 The Lion’s Hearth

Lagavulin 12 Lion's Share
Diageo

ABV: 56.5%

Common Worth: $200

The Whisky:

That is the youthful of two particular releases from Diageo final yr. The whisky is constructed from juice aged in refill bourbon casks, that means that the casks had already aged bourbon after which aged single malts a minimum of as soon as earlier than this whisky was crammed into them and left for 12 years. That whisky was then vatted and bottled at cask energy.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with notes of air-dried sea salt mingling with nori wetted with sushi rice and a transparent sense of inexperienced tea with a touch of dried florals that lead towards dry cacao powder, salted lemon peels, and a really distant line of sea-spray laced campfire smoke with moist sand lurking beneath. The palate takes that sea salt, nori, and lemon and tosses them collectively for a pointy but dry and briny mouthfeel that leads again to now-sweetened tea with a touch of waxy saltwater taffy. The mid-palate rushes in the direction of an enormous billow of dry driftwood smoke that’s emboldened by a handful of smoked and dried ancho chilis.

Backside Line:

We’re already into “Wow” territory with this bottle. There’s a lot occurring that each one simply works. You do actually need so as to add some water to let this one bloom. Upon getting, pair this with takeout out of your favourite sushi joint and also you’ll be all set.

6. Lagavulin 13 Fèis Ìle 2021

Lagavulin 13 Feis Iles
Diageo

ABV: 54.4%

Common Worth: $900

The Whisky:

This limited-edition whisky dropped final summer time for the famed Fèis Ìle 2021 Islay whisky fest. The juice within the bottle is a 13-year-old whisky that was aged in ex-bourbon casks earlier than a remaining maturation in white port casks with a really deep char. That whisky was then vatted and bottled as is.

Tasting Notes:

“Chestnuts roasting on an open fireplace…” That’s the place the nostril begins earlier than edging towards wooden polish, Windex, smoked plums and apricots, candied almonds (these ones coated in pink sugar), and a touch of soiled campfire smoke within the distance. The palate begins with a woody/oily nature that’s bitterly charred which results in malty spiciness that leans in the direction of pizza parlor dried chili flakes and freshly cracked pink peppercorns. That spiciness melds with the smoked stonefruit late because the Windex and earthy smoke fade away.

Backside Line:

On first style, this feels far and wide. Then it begins to come back collectively the extra you add water and the extra you return to it. By the top, you’ll be hooked by this uncommon and attractive pour. Admittedly, this one won’t be for everyone.

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5. Lagavulin 16

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Common Worth: $110

The Whisky:

That is essentially the most recognizable Lagavulin on the market. The malts are smoked simply down the highway from the distillery at Port Ellen and the juice is crafted expertly by the ocean at Lagavulin. Then the whisky spends 16 lengthy years mellowing in previous American and Spanish oak.

Tasting Notes:

Think about a seaside fireplace that’s utilizing dried seaweed as gas subsequent to mugs of honeyed black tea and a clump of moist moss on the nostril. The style of this dram meanders by way of dried pipe tobacco smoke laced with hints of vanilla and tart apple whereas notes of briny caramel lead in the direction of an oyster shell minerality. The end is pure silk because the seaweed grows wetter and the smoke sweetens in the direction of that caramel, vanilla, and apple.

Backside Line:

I nearly ranked this as primary. That is simply essentially the most drinkable Lagavulin on the listing (additionally findable and comparatively reasonably priced). That is the bottle I attain for as a weekend pour over a rock or two (or with some Coke for a Smoky Cokey). It’s easygoing whereas providing simply the correct amount of nuance and depth to problem your palate.

4. Lagavulin Distiller’s Version

Diageo

ABV: 43%

Common Worth: $120

The Whisky:

Final yr’s Distiller’s Version was one other prime instance of the heights Lagavulin can attain. The juice was aged for 15 years within the core Lagavulin barrels (ex-bourbon and ex-sherry) after which completed for round six months in Pedro Ximénez sherry casks that have been particularly made and held particular sherry earlier than the whisky was loaded into the barrels. The result’s a 15-year-old Lagavulin that’ll aid you fall in love with the model and elegance.

Tasting Notes:

This appears like all of the refined notes throughout the Lagavulin vary have come collectively in one of the best ways. You’re drawn in with hints of honeyed smoke, salted caramel apples, delicate hints of vanilla, and smoldering espresso grounds. The style ties the honey to a comfortable oakiness subsequent to vanilla-chocolate espresso, seaside salted taffy, and a contact of fish oil. The top may be very lengthy and pure velvet on the tongue because the candy oak fades in the direction of a candy smokiness, with a touch of salty roasted almonds and burnt vanilla husks.

Backside Line:

As a lot as I really like the 16 above, this edges it out. Why? Truthfully, it’s arduous to say. However I can inform you this bottle is at all times emptied far faster than the 16 on the ol’ Johnston residence. I believe that is simply that little bit subtler and extra refined, and it actually shines with a rock or two.

3. Lagavulin 26 The Lion’s Jewel

Lagavulin 26
Diageo

ABV: 44.2%

Common Worth: $2,450

The Whisky:

It is a very uncommon and distinctive whisky. First, it’s the primary 26-year-old Lagavulin launched. Subsequent, there have been solely 7,500 of those bottles launched. Lastly, the whisky was constructed from a mixture of first-fill Pedro Ximenez and Oloroso sherry casks. These barrels have been married after over 20 years of mellowing and bottled at a really accessible cask energy of 44.2 p.c.

Tasting Notes:

The nostril opens with pink wine barrel staves and previous boat ropes thrown right into a campfire subsequent to figs wrapped in nori and drizzled with wealthy butterscotch whereas hints of outboard motor smoke on the dock only a few toes away. From there, the style mellows in the direction of smoked dates flaked, a way of sardine oil, and loads of salt and black pepper. The end mellows as this moist and earthy word arrives that’s one half forest mushroom, one half moist inexperienced moss, and one half smoldering moist cedar branches with a slight peppery tobacco dryness and heat on the very finish.

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Backside Line:

It is a wild and enjoyable trip. It’s additionally a fairly rattling distinctive Lagavulin expertise general. Outboard motor smoke, sardine cans, and smoked dates in all probability don’t sound like they go collectively. However, belief me, they do on this whisky. Simply be sure to essentially give this time within the glass and add drops of water to let it open up when you travel on the nostril and style. There’s loads to dig out of this one.

2. Lagavulin 13 Jazz Competition 2021

Lagavulin 13 2021 Jazz Fest
Diageo

ABV: 54.8%

Common Worth: $411

The Whisky:

The opposite massive competition in Islay is the yearly Jazz Competition (normally in November). Final yr, Lagavulin launched a particular version 13-year-old. This time, nevertheless, the whisky was completed in former mezcal barrels from Mexico.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a whiff of cherry cough drops adopted by moist bark, singed vanilla pods, and a touch of smoked brisket lined in paprika and black pepper with a grilled fruitiness beneath. The style leans into the peat with a moist charcoal vibe subsequent to almond shells and tarmac that’s all countered by nearly bitter tropical fruit and a distant echo of vegetal roasted agave pinas. Floral honey sweetness breaks by way of on the mid-palate as candied orange peels, new Ace Bandages, smoked pineapple skins, and black pepper soaked in smoked brisket fats drive the end dwelling.

Backside Line:

This was a revelation. Shout out to Diageo for pulling (what I’m guessing is Casamigos) mezcal casks and sending them to Islay. It’s smoke on a smoke, certain. However that is working at an entire totally different degree of fruit, carbon, and medicinal high quality than every other Islay peated whisky on the market. This really may have you saying “wow” from the primary sip.

1. Lagavulin 25

Lagavulin 25
Diageo

ABV: 51.7%

Common Worth: $1,200

The Whisky:

This bottle was launched in 2016 together with Lagavulin 8. The juice is a sherry-cask-aged whisky that was left alone for 25 lengthy years. The honey barrels that made it by way of that period have been then vatted and bottled as-is at cask energy into solely 8,000 bottles.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a dryness and softness to this whisky that’s sort of mind-blowing. The nostril meanders by way of previous and sticky wooden polish, wealthy sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel sauce, savory nearly moldy figs, black-tea-soaked dates, meaty smoked prunes, peppery smoked beef fats, chewed-up Band-Aids, and an previous cedar field that’s been full of pennies for many years. The palate appears like raspberry saltwater taffy wax wrappers full of smoked honey candies and waxy cacao nibs straight off the tree.

A comfortable cherry wooden smoke meanders by way of extra honey and pine kindling with loads of pitch, tart but dry cherry tobacco, lengthy and dry willow branches, and burnt mint leaves. Candied orange peel drives the mid-palate again to that smoked honey and peppery beef fats as dried chipotle chilis combine with a really darkish and bitter chocolate, a touch of BBQ ash, and a little bit bit extra of that pine resin.

Backside Line:

These final two entries are two of the very best whiskies I’ve tasted in a very long time. However this one is simply otherworldly. This is perhaps amongst my all-time favourite whiskies, full cease. Amazingly, though there appears to be a lot occurring, this whisky is one way or the other chilled out. It’s so comfortable and refined whereas taking you on a journey that feels thrilling, nostalgic, and, effectively, attractive.

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