We've got two Lagavulin's today, the most recent release from the Offerman series alongside the Game of Thrones edition.
Lagavulin 9yo Game of Thrones House Lannister
This limited edition Lagavulin release was matured exclusively in first fill bourbon casks, and bottled at 9 years old as part of a collaboration with the HBO show Game of Thrones.
It starts off with a mixture of fermenting bread dough, pickle brine and a light coastal salinity, following into more of a sweet yet ashy smoke towards the end of the nose. It's got distinctive sweet and sour elements that play off each other quite well. Time in the glass reveals a light pepperiness, not from high alcohol, more of the freshly ground peppercorn aroma. There’s also a herbaceousness reminding us of basil and some sweeter honey and vanilla notes too.
That ashy smoke is instantly identifiable on the first sip, following into strong vanilla custard and sponge cake flavours. The texture is nice, good for 46% although thins out quite quickly as you leave it on the palate. That peppery spice from the nose is back on the palate, this time showing off more of an alcohol punch. The finish lingers for a fair while with synthetic sugars mixed with a pinch of sea salt. Air brings out more of a maritime quality, wet pebbles and salted caramel. There's a hint of sourness on the initial part of the palate, but it disappears quite quickly leaving you with that sweet smoke.
Nose (with water)
Slightly sweeter now, slightly more funky, yeasty aromas too. It feels milky now, there's a more distinct creaminess coming through. Damp wood, honeycomb, mellow smoke. It's not particularly enhancing the nose, but not destroying it either.
Palate (with water)
Water brings forward more of the salted caramel, pastry cases, sweet vanilla custard, milk chocolate coins and a little nutmeg spice. Unfortunately some of the mouthfeel and texture we enjoyed before has disappeared. We'd probably skip adding water as it's fine without it.
We're pleasantly surprised. It's solid whisky, has a good mouthfeel for the ABV and an enjoyable nose and palate. It's a little simple.. it's sweet and smokey, not that this is a bad thing. It's not cheap but they've got to pay for the Game of Thrones rights somehow. An easy sipper and we'd happily have another dram.
Lagavulin 11yo Offerman Edition 2022 (Charred Oak)
Lagavulin’s latest collaboration with Nick Offerman has been aged in heavily charred ex-bourbon and ex-red wine casks for 11 years.
Burnt wood, steak on the charcoal grill, slightly briney, a hint of zesty lemon coming through and mellow peat smoke. It's quite a full nose, powerful aromas without too much alcohol spice. There's some tea leaves, tinned pineapple, runny honey and a touch of soot as well. Time reveals more coastal aromas, sea spray and seaweed. One interesting thing we're noticing is that the longer it sits in the glass, the more mellow and restrained it seems to become.
The palate begins with a waft of ashy, sooty peat flavour accentuated with charred oak and freshly opened vanilla pods. There's a real white pepper spice that lingers throughout the palate and onto the finish, alongside dried mint leaves and sugar syrup.. we imagine this is what a smokey mojito would taste like. The mouthfeel is just ok, it feels a little thin and the finish, although a good length, feels overly sweet and mentholy. After air we're finding some dark chocolate, but overall it's a touch one dimensional.
Nose (with water)
A sourness appears that we didn't detect before, alongside more of a bonfire smoke and smoked fish cooked over a grill on the beach. It also feels like we've lost something - the nose isn't as pronounced as before.
Palate (with water)
Similar to the reduced nose, there's a sourness that's appearing on the initial palate, following into a mixture of sweet and salty popcorn and ending in overly sweet peat smoke. The mouthfeel is even thinner now, which is a touch disappointing.
Not a bad whisky, but there's not much here that's blowing us away. It's not overly complex and it's too pricey. We enjoyed the Game of Thrones bottling a little bit more. Score wise, we're between a 6.5 and a 7, but we'll settle with 7/10 if you avoid adding water. If you're looking for a Lagavulin in this price range, we'd recommend the Lagavulin 8yo for £10 cheaper.
- 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.
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