Lagavulin 25 Years Old 200th Anniversary (2016)
Lagavulin celebrated its 200th anniversary last year, and released a number of special editions, such as the excellent 8 Years Old. That one was affordable and released in great quantities, contrary to the whisky I’m reviewing today.
I’ve tasted the Lagavulin 25 Years Old once before, at an incredible Lagavulin tasting I attended last year. Back then, it was the standout whisky in a line up consisting of only standouts. Seeing as this whisky costs well over 1,000 euro, I didn’t think I’d ever taste this again. Or at least, not so soon.
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A few weeks ago I hosted a rather decadent tasting for a local shop, Het Whisky Huis. The idea for this tasting basically came about because the shop owner wanted to open a bottle of Lagavulin 25. So he and I decided on a line up, and he generously only charged his cost price for all the bottles included in the tasting.
It turned out to be a great recipe for a wonderful, informal tasting with about thirty other whisky enthusiasts. While the other whiskies were all of high quality, the Lagavulin was without a doubt the crown jewel. Having tasted it before, I knew what to expect, and I decided to decant my dram into a sample bottle, as to be able to write proper notes on it.
The Lagavulin 25 Years Old is an ode to all the former distillery managers of Lagavulin. Their names are edged into the glass, making for a stunning design. More importantly, the liquid inside is of equally stunning quality.
Lagavulin 25 Years Old (51,7%, OB for 200th Anniversary, 2016)
Nose: This is on another level! Smoked barbecue meat, smoked paprika powder, beef jerky, charred wood. And plenty of fruits as well. Raisins, lots of oranges, dates, cherries but also dark chocolate. Finally some soft baking spices and burlap. A wee touch of sulphur.
Taste: Big and meaty, yet restrained and elegant. Smoked kippers, tobacco leaves, varnish and subtle peat. Some menthol and dark chocolate, but also lemon and orange zest, and a fair amount of spices too, like cinnamon and cloves. A feint tartiness. Epically complex.
Finish: A touch dry, but long, with lemon and leather.
As good as I remember it from when I tasted it first last year, maybe even better. A bucket list whisky, a dream dram. Whatever you want to call this, it’s effing good!
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.