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07/07/2016

Happy Birthday Lagavulin!

by Isabel Graham-Yooll (Spirits Buyer)

A quick note on the iconic Lagavulin’s limited edition bottling to honour 200 years of distillery managers. 

Happy Birthday Lagavulin! Lagavulin is one of the most treasured single malt whiskies in the world, and this summer the Islay distillery marked its 200th anniversary with a huge birthday bash and a limited edition release: a special 25-Year-Old bottling (the first 25-Year-Old release to be matured exclusively in sherry casks). This bottling follows the earlier sell out release of Lagavulin 8 Year Old this year.

BI Lagavulin 25 Year Old 200th Anniversary whisky

Dr Nick Morgan, Diageo’s ‘Head of Whisky Outreach’ (best job title everEd), kicked off the party with a bit of history. Lagavulin was already a centre of whisky production in the early 18th century; indeed, there had almost certainly been many other illicit stills before John Johnston founded the first legal distillery at Lagavulin Bay in 1816. Cramped and chaotic by nature, this sea front distillery can never be expanded and therefore demand often exceeds supply.

Dr Morgan called the new 25 Year Old “a sublime expression of Lagavulin” and “couldn’t think of a better way to pay homage to the distillery managers”.

The popularity of the distillery could perhaps be quantified in the sheer volume of guests that attended the event despite the torrential weather warnings. As such we squeezed and poured ourselves in to the vast banqueting benches for a bit of elbow-to-elbow dining.

BI Lagavulin 200th anniversary event

Finally Georgie Crawford, distillery manager at the Lagavulin distillery, completed the night with a toast to two centuries of Lagavulin and we plunged in to taste a dram of the whisky itself.

So, how about the new limited edition Lagavulin 25 Year Old? Well, it is profoundly aromatic. It has all the classic Lagavulin richness: dried fruits (figs, dates, prunes), faintly medicinal, with charred, smoky wood polish too. Pretty meaty but with an elusive treacly honeyed sweetness and in fact a fresh herb and apple note that lifts the finish. The palate is oily, peaty and meaty; it’s bitter and tart; salty, sweet and minty, and full of umami savoury pleasure.

Bottled at natural cask strength and with only 8,000 individually numbered bottles worldwide, this extremely limited 25-Year-Old edition is already in demand months before it is released... so watch this space.