Lagavulin 16 Years Old (Feis Ile 2017)
Usually the highlight of Feis Ile bottlings, the Lagavulin that was released in 2017 is a bit of and odd duck. We’re used to bourbon, Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez matured Lagavulin, but a lot of people got their panties in a bunch when this Moscatel matured release was announced. But just because something is different doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.
Moscatel is a sweet wine produced in a similar way to Pedro Ximénez, but the grape variety is at least 85% Moscatel de Alejandria. It’s a dessert wine, although not typical to the Andalucia region. It’s also produced in other countries like Portugal.
Caol Ila has previously used Moscatel casks and those barrels were then used by Lagavulin for this annual Feis Ile release. An interesting experiment? Let’s find out, shall we.
Lagavulin 16 Years Old (56.1%, OB ‘Feis Ile 2017’, 6.000 bts.)
Nose: A nice, earthy peat with briny seaweed, rock pools, and smouldering embers. Notes of kippers, but also a touch of lime and capers. Finally a whiff of orange zest. Great stuff.
Taste: Proper oily mouthfeel. Dark, ashy and sooty with wood smoke seeping through. Nice salinity too. Hints of diesel, as well as a nice minerality and touches of charred orange peel.
Finish: Lingering spices. Chili peppers, nutmeg. Somewhat dry.
I’m not sure where the Moscatel influence is, but this is just a really solid Lagavulin, with a good amount of power and flavor. Approved!
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.