Just last month Lagg Distillery added a second expression to their core range. The Lagg Corriecravie Edition joins the Kilmory Edition as one of the distillery’s flagship malts. The Corriecrave Edition initially matured in bourbon barrels before a finish in Oloroso sherry hogsheads for around six months.
A visit to Lagg Distillery had been high up my list ever since the project was announced by Arran Distillers. Earlier this year it finally happened. And it was a memorable experience due in large part thanks to distillery manager Graham Omand. He must be one of the most hospitable, friendly people I’ve met.
We talked for the first time many years ago when I interviewed him for a Dutch whisky magazine. This was by phone, mind you, not even a video call. Graham had already been appointed manager, but the distillery was still many months from being completed. Now, I remember every interview I’ve ever done. I love talking to people who are passionate about whisky. Even more so if they work in the industry.
Yet I often wonder whether the people I interview even remember these interactions. Sometimes they do dozens of interviews each year. If not many more. An interview might mean something to me, but could be just a routine moment for the interviewee. Luckily, Graham did remember. And he was so incredibly gracious about it. As if I did him the favour, not the other way around.
I received a warm welcome at Lagg, a distillery that sits in one of the most beautiful locations in Scotland. And it takes full advantage of it. The views from the still house and the café are vast and impressive. (Which reminds me to commend the staff running the café. They were lovely.) And the spirit itself is very promising, but also already delicious at a young age too.
Visibly proud, Graham showed me around the distillery and we discussed many aspects of Lagg, Arran and the wider whisky industry. I can’t possibly remember everything. However, one thing that stood out to me were Lagg’s experiments with different peat levels, from 15ppm all the way up to 90ppm. This is in part due to the difficulties of consistently obtaining malt that’s peated to the same exact specifications. But also in part out of curiosity.
I myself can’t wait to try the subtly peated Lagg, as that’s usually a style of whisky that agrees with me. But Graham was extremely excited about the 90ppm spirit. It’s made from barley that grows in a nearby field that can be seen from the distillery. He mentioned that the few people who had tasted were all very impressed. Which in turn makes me very excited.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We live in the now, not the future. The Lagg Corriecravie Edition is what’s available to us. And the specs are pretty impressive. I already mentioned the sherry finish. The casks were sourced from Miguel Martin in Jerez, a producer that works with several Scottish whisky distilleries.
What stands out most is the decision to bottle the Lagg Corriecravie Edition at 55 percent. That’s bold. And surprising. For example, the Lagg Kilmory Edition is bottled at ‘just’ 46 percent. I’m not going to argue with it though.
Lagg Corriecravie Edition (55%, OB, 2023)
Nose: Initially fresher than expected, with touches of sauerkraut, some cloves, nutmeg, and even a hint of elderflower. Also vegetal peat, some iodine and dark embers. That’s not to say there’s no sherry influence. Because of course there is. It slowly takes over. Think redcurrants, milk chocolate, and kirsch. Also a sliver of wet forest floor. Taste: Proper oily mouthfeel, which has already become a Lagg trademark not even one year after their inaugural releases. Here I get more of that sweet peat that usually comes with sherry maturation, although there’s a medicinal quality as well. Hints of cherries, cinnamon, hazelnut and burlap, as well as some damp oak and tobacco. The oak is fairly present, but otherwise nicely done. Finish: Medium length and a tad dry. Salted peanuts, a drop of iodine, dark chocolate and charred oak.
The Lagg new make spirit proves a strong foundation that stands up against the heavy sherry influence. The two aren't battling though, instead working together rather seamlessly. Wonderful showing from Lagg once again.