On the bicentennial of (legal) distilling at Lagavulin, the Islay distillery has released a sumptuous 25-year-old expression to celebrate. This one pays homage to its distillery managers, including current Distillery Manager Georgie Crawford. All who have proudly filled that position have their name and years served printed on the bottle. As for the whisky itself, it’s matured in sherry casks and bottled at cask strength (50.9% abv).
At 50.9% abv, Lagavulin 25 comes in surprisingly mellower than expected in the nose in that there is no alcohol vapor getting in the way of lucious aromas. Smoked pineapple & mango, slightly burnt toffee, some sherried fruit and a touch of Caribbean rum funk make up the majority of the nose. Those lovely peaty notes are also present, albeit in a more integrated manner and not as heavy as say the 8- or 12-year-old expressions. A little airtime also reveals Danish pastry, or some sort of sweet bread and spice. On the palate, Lagavulin 25 features sweet ripe mango, sherried malt, spice, freshly squeezed mandarin orange and a nice herbalness over a soft bed of wood smoke and cured meat. With a peated whisky of this age, the smoky characteristic has had time to mellow out. There’s a richness here not normally found in the standard 16-year-old expression. We can thank those sherry casks for that. The finish is long and a tad spicy, leaving behind a pleasant sweet & smoked malt note alongside a sprinkling of orange zest.
We have upon us what I describe as one of the greatest whiskies I’ve had the pleasure of tasting. Yes, it’s rare (8,000 bottles worldwide) and expensive ($1,200 a bottle) and most of us will never have the chance to try it. Nonetheless, Lagavulin 25 is a magnificently rich and well-aged expression of the Islay distillery that earns my highest mark to date on this blog. 9.75/10
Thanks to Diageo for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.