Lagavulin 16 & Lagavulin Jazz Festival 2018


We’re heading to Islay and treating ourselves to what we’re hoping are a few gems before we’re faced with tackling the SMWS February outturn tomorrow

Lagavulin 16

Region: Islay

ABV: 43.0%

Price: £75

It’s been a few years since we’ve tried lagavulin 16, but all our memories are fond. We’ve heard that the quality of this has declined in recent years, but we’re going into this with an open mind.

Nose

Sour apples, light peat smoke, clean vanilla, freshly shaven wood, tobacco and light leather. There’s a caramel sweetness here, and maybe a pinch of sea salt in there too. The smoke here is really restrained, and not punchy at all. We’re also getting a sort of tomato ketchup note here, the combination of sweet and sour.

Palate

Sugary sweet smoke, almost overly sweet for us. Huge vanilla flavour, like a custard that’s been infused with smoke from wood chips. There’s some bitter tea leaves and a touch of white pepper, but its very light. Some salted peanuts in there too. This has a an oily mouthfeel without much body at all, yet it has a little bit of a citrus zing on the finish that carries through for a reasonable amount of time.

Nose (with water)

A little pickle brine, quite salty now with costal sea air blowing past us. A lot of the vanilla sweetness seems to have disappeared from the nose and has been replaced with more meaty, ashy bbq aromas. It’s now got a bit of a medicinal smell, maybe even some motor oil.

Palate (with water)

Cough syrup, burnt toast with margarine, still quite an oily mouthfeel, but flat on the body. There’s a little more oak and caramel showing now, and some grilled bacon on the finish, which is still holding to a reasonable length.

Conclusion

We think If you’re new to peated whisky, this would be a great introduction. It has all of the sweetness without any of the bite, burn, or pepper that usually comes with higher abv and younger spirit. The smoke is there but it’s not overpowering at all, yet it lingers all the way through the finish. Now just imagine this at full strength, it would be quite incredible. Maybe one day…

Score: 7.5/10


Lagavulin Jazz Festival 2018

Region: Islay

ABV: 58.5%

Price: ~£130 (Current auction price)

This release was matured in first fill and refill American oak Hogsheads and Puncheons This was a release of 6,000 bottles.

Nose

Charred oak - and lots of it. Saying that, the nose is actually quite muted, you don’t get the alcohol punch you’d expect from something at 58.5%. There’s also a little pear with skin on, saltwater and toffee apple. Going back to it there’s a muddiness here too. It’s not super pleasant to be honest.

Palate

Fizzy cola bottles, a little fresh apple and the trademark ashy, smoke coming through. There’s an initial sweetness that’s dialled up to 11, then it mellows into something a little artificial, and then into a touch of Szechuan peppercorn with quite a dry finish. The mouthfeel is a little thin, not too oily, yet it has a reasonable finish. Alcohol is well integrated though, and it doesn’t taste nearly as strong as it is.

Nose (with water)

It noses a little more custardy now, maybe a little fresh corn and unbaked bread dough. There’s also some Ice cream cones and a little seaweed. There’s still a good amount of briny smoke here too. We’re getting a bit more from this now that water has been added.

Palate (with water)

Red pepper and chilli spice that tingles the tongue, a lot of vanilla custard and a little lemon juice here too. The smoke is muted but makes a short appearance at the end. There’s also a touch of saltwater here too. Finish has some length but is still a bit flat.

Conclusion

We’d hazard a guess that it’s quite young, or maybe the casks were pretty dead? Either way this isn’t our favourite dram. There’s just not really that much going on - a touch of sweetness, a touch of spice, and more than a touch of disappointment.

Score: 5.5/10

  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

Interested in trying drams like these? We've created the Two Whisky Bros Dram Club to help you get access to high quality, rare whisky by the dram.

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