Lagavulin is one of the great distilleries—you can’t convince me otherwise. While it doesn’t reach the highs of 1960s Bowmore and Laphroaig, there came a point when it started to surpass both of those distilleries. Of course, there’s great Bowmore and Laphroaig from the 1990s and 2000s arounds, but Lagavulin outperforms either in those eras. I know that’s just my opinion, but it almost feels like fact.
The Lagavulin 25 bottled during the distillery’s bicentennial year is exquisite, while I think the Lagavulin 21 from 2007 (not reviewed here but I have tasted it) is in the race for one of the best single malts from this millennium. And if you’re looking for a more affordable option, the Lagavulin 16 outperforms most similarly priced malts.
There’s not much you can fault Lagavulin. Except, maybe, you’d like a few more affordable releases if you’re a fan? From that perspective, 2019 certainly delivered. Besides the annual Distillers Edition, we were also treated to the Lagavulin 11yo Offerman Edition and to a new Travel Retail Exclusive. Matured in rejuvenated and ex-bourbon casks, this matured for 10 years. Curious to see if it delivers…
Lagavulin 10 Years (43%, Travel Retail Exclusive, 2020)
Nose: Mature and elegant, more so than some other youthful Lagavulin from recent years. I enjoy the farmy influence, with plenty of straw and a touch of cow dung, quickly followed by overripe bananas, honey, sauerkraut and oats. There’s a nice balance between the aforementioned and the charcoal and smoke.
Taste: Feels a bit subdued, maybe because of the relatively low strength, but has a good body in general. A tinge of salt at first, combined with caramel—let’s call it salted caramel then. Some tar, green peat and a pinch of pepper.
Finish: Medium in length. Salty, ashy and some vanilla custard.
Overall, this Lagavulin is good whisky and you could do much worse in Travel Retail—although that’s not much of a benchmark, is it? Nevertheless, it is very satisfying. Doesn’t quite reach the highs of the Lagavulin 8 but I’m sure it’ll satisfy any Lagahead’s needs.