The 2014 Lagavulin Distillers Edition is the current bottling available in Alberta. This particular release was distilled in 1998, making it, for the more mathematically inclined, a 16 year old release of Lagavulin. What could be more iconic? A tried, tested, and true formula. Except, with the distillers edition, Lagavulin has set aside casks to be finished in Pedro Ximenez Sherry barrels. By most accounts, the standard 16 year-old release is a marriage of refill Bourbon, and refill Sherry casks, but the Distillers Edition focuses heavily on the richer, deeper tones of Sherry.
I will say this. Lately I’ve had a prejudice against whiskies bottled at less than cask strength. For me, these days, 40% whisky is the quickest way to ennui. The Lagavilin 2014 Distillers Edition is bottled at 43%. Here are my thoughts.
The Lagavulin brand understands aesthetics, in a subtle and sophisticated way. The packaging is classy without being uptight and outdated, modern without being inaccessible. Lean, yet substantial. Topped with a distillery emblem that is so hideously rococo it’s perfect imbalance is strangely soothing to the soul. The amber/green bottle flirts with the darkened whisky inside.
In the glass, it appears alluring, rich, and luxurious. Dark, tarnished copper. Though, no statement regarding the absence of caramel colour is present. We’re left to draw our own conclusions from that.
Once in the glass, a plume of smoky aromas pour out, but after sitting for a few minutes, the aftershock aromas calm down. What finally comes out on the relaxed nose is a swirl of multiplicity and singularity. Table grapes on the vine (especially the ones that are soft and have ever-so-slightly dried out on their stem) and fresh florals. Cream soda, sweet tarts and candy necklaces round out the middle. Fun Dip. The peatiness doesn’t leap out of the glass, but snakes along the foundation.
A lesson in counterpoint. Wisdom and youthfulness. The first sip is a mist of cooling peppermint, with curls of Latakia & Cavendish smoke billowing in a leather jacket. Rebel without a cause. Finishing on bbq’d hot dogs, ripe apricots, and melon slices.
Sophistication is the word. The mouthfeel is thick and full, showing remarkable balance. The mild sweetness on the finish counterbalances and rounds out any possible harshness.
A slight slickness on the palate, oily without being tiresome. Every aspect of the whisky culminates here to create a moment extended perfectly in time, & is exactly proper to the finish of the whisky, not an instant more, or less. A big blast of retro nasal smoke as the whisky bows out, Japanese nori snacks by the extinguished bonfire. May I have another?
The 2014 Lagavulin Distillers Edition is a bottling that celebrates careful balance. Whether we’re talking about colour, aroma, flavour, or even packaging, no one element exists without a counter point that balances it gracefully, bringing it into a harmonious conversation with everything else. Remarkable stuff.
An impressive, interesting easy drinker that will put a dent in your pocketbook that you’ll soon forget. In the glass, there’s lots to think about if you’re a thinker, and if you’re a drinker, it’s very, very drinkable. Keep it on hand for entertaining discerning guests.
What do you think? Leave a comment below. Feel free to give your opinion and correct me on any facts I’ve bungled. Cheers.