Blind Tasting Competition #17: Lagavulin Feis Ile 2014
We are rapidly nearing the finish line of the Blind Tasting Competition. Only two samples left, and sample #17 is another very good one. Earlier this competition I’d mistaken a Glen Scotia for an Islay-whisky, but I think sample #17 really does take us to this legendary whisky producing island.
Lagavulin 1995/2014 (54,7%, OB Feis Ile 2014, 3500 bts.)
Nose: Vegetal, licorice and nutty, with an obvious, but subtle peat aroma. Some damp wood and wet leaves are accompanied by sea spray. There’s a fruity layer with orange and lemon. Also some cactus sap.
Taste: Salt and pepper. A creamy and drying mouthfeel with wood smoke and charcoal. Fruity, some red but mostly green or white, like apple and pear.
Finish: Peaty and fruity, with some floral notes.
A very nice whisky indeed. I tasted this twice, a couple of days apart. The first time I was really impressed, especially with the nose. I think I nosed it for half an hour before daring to take a sip. If I would’ve rated it at that time, I might’ve gotten a 92, but surely a 91. The second tasting session I was less impressed. That’s why I took the final rating down to 89.
Now for my guess. From the get-go I thought this was a Caol Ila, because it showed some resemblance to this one from Maltbarn I tasted not that long ago. In the end I decided that it might really be the 19yo from Maltbarn, so that’s the one I entered as my guess. It turned out to be one of the most sought after and highly rated whiskies of 2014.
I find it incredible that the organizers of the Blind Tasting Competition managed to get three bottles of Lagavulin Feis Ile 2014. The most interesting thing is, that the average rating of all the participants (56 rates) was almost ten points lower than the Whiskybase-rating. Now you have to keep in mind that most of the participants are very experienced and therefor not as easy to please. Most whiskies during the Blind Tasting Competition tend to get rated 4 or 5 points below their WB-score. But ten points must surely be some kind of record.
That’s not to say that the Lagavulin Feis Ile 2014 is not an excellent dram. But it might just be a tad bit overrated.
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.