Once again we have a distiller’s edition that feels worse than the original, costs more, and you sort of feel that maybe scotch shouldn’t be done by a committee – but at least more than 1 person. Distiller’s edition’s have always baffled us, because it’s usually done more as an experiment, or to take what is often a more ‘generalized’ product and make it niche, jack up the price, and go. The problem is that they become novelty to buy once, when it really should be something better.
Honestly there’s not much else to say, and considering how long their text is – we’ll let the metrics do the talking.
What they Say: “Situated on the banks of Lagavulin Bay on the island of Islay, Lagavulin Distillery is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Distilling took place on the banks of Lagavulin Bay as early as 1742, and by the turn of the century, there were as many as ten illicit stills operating in the area. In 1816, John Johnson founded the first legal distillery on the site, and within a year Archibald Campbell had opened a second. After Johnson’s death, Alexander Graham acquired Johnston’s distillery for £1,100 and eventually united the two distilleries together under the Lagavulin name. Since that time, the rich, peaty water that runs down the brown burn and through the Solan Lochs into the hills just next to Lagavulin Bay has served as the lifeblood of the distillery.
Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky is known as one of the most intense, smoky single malt whiskies ever made — the peated barley used to create Lagavulin Single Malt has up to twenty times more exposure to peat smoke than typical Scotches. Once the grains used to craft Lagavulin Whisky have been harvested and malted, they are dried over a peat and gas fire calibrated specifically to produce Lagavulin’s signature, bold flavor profile.
The grains are then milled and mashed before being fermented for approximately 72 hours. Following fermentation, the whisky is distilled twice — first through a wash still for approximately five hours and then again through a spirit distill for approximately nine hours. This is the slowest distillation process of any Islay distillery, and gives Lagavulin its characteristic round flavors and mellow edges.
Lagavulin Distillers Edition Single Malt Scotch Whisky is matured for 16 years in traditional, oak casks in the distillery’s warehouses. During its maturation, Iain McArthur, Lagavulin warehouseman, ensures that the whisky matures evenly and consistently (McArthur has been working at the distillery for over four decades). After the whisky has matured in traditional oak casks, it is double-barreled, or finished, in casks that were previously used to mature sherry made from Pedro Ximinez grapes. Once harvested, Pedro Ximinez grapes shrivel up to a raisin-like state, which concentrates the sugars in the grape and results in a sweet wine with legendary viscosity and intensity. This double-maturation process complements the intensely smoky notes of the whisky and adds an additional layer of complexity.
Lagavulin Distillers Edition Single Malt Scotch has an aroma of intense raisins, prunes and smoke. The initial notes are surprisingly sweet, with subtle hints of caramel, vanilla and dates that are balanced by a smoky undertone. The ever-lasting finish has deep, dark notes of red fruits and a round, bold finish.”
Taste: 6.0 – It feels more like an island scotch here. There’s a bit of that salt spray flavor. There is a hint of peat.
Aftertaste: 6.0 – It becomes more like an islay here with the smoke and woody flavor.
Burn/Smooth: 5.5 – It’s not very present in terms of burn, but it’s there and it gets worse as you go along.
Aroma: 6.0 – It’s a nice sweet smell, but it’s very subdued. It’s pleasantly smokey and woody, but from a Lagavulin I want to be punch in the face.
Honesty: 7.5 – So it’s very verbose making it wanky, it lies a bit (like seriously raisins-y c’mon), and it’s finished with Sherry Casks. However it is Lagavulin which does a healthy amount of points here, combined with scotch.
W/ Rocks: 7.75 – It’s made it a bit more mild, but it’s opened the scotch up in terms of flavor, melding of it’s tastes, and overall it’s just damn better. It destroys any burn. It’s well done here.
Value: 2.75 – Sorry but if this was at 60 we could be talking, 80 and it’d be dead on. But this cost 30 more than the regular 16 year, and that’s just a sin. This has moved to a price bracket, and it does not have the chaps to compete.
Google Shop Average: $114
Metric Score: 41.5/70 |+| Metric Average: 5.93 |+| Reviewer Average: 5.75
Final Thoughts: This is a simple fact – it costs more than the typical Lagavulin by 30 dollars. Objectively it’s not a terrible whisky, and having it on rocks is great. It isn’t smooth, and comes off as a weird Speyside/Island instead of an Islay, and it overall feels like a waste.