Sunday, August 14, 2016

Whisky Review: Lagavulin 8 years Single Malt

I was at a whisky tasting last night in Jarge's backyard and there was a brand new, unopened, bottle of Lagavulin 8 years, courtesy of whisky dawg Ken.  He picked it up in Manchester, New Hampshire for $50 on sale (normally retails for $65-$70).

Any single malt under ten years of age makes me shiver.  Scotch needs time in the cask to soften it up.  A lot of time is needed to tame the bite of the white dog, the smoke, the peat and iodine of the sea when dealing with Islay.  So, I viewed this recent release from the Lagavulin distillery with some trepidation.  I wanted it to be good because I like and respect the 16 year old so much.  But, bottling whisky from the same distillery at half the age?  That is fraught with danger!

Bottled at ABV 48% made me think this is gonna be really strong and in need of water.  It was aged in refill American and European oak casks.  Holding the glass up, I notice it is very pale which to me suggests no artificial coloring, but apparently this is not true.  I have read that it is colored with E150.  Oh well, you purists can stop reading now, but for the rest of whisky tramps, read on!

From the first sip I was hooked.  It may be 48% ABV but sure was smooth like the coat of a well groomed Doberman, without the bite.  While it was peated and smoked with mackerel notes, there were also intriguing dark red fruits making an appearance.  Complexity abounds.  There is a sweetness of the smoke and iodine that intertwines with dark plum, fig and even some citrus notes.  I added water, maybe a little too much on a second glass and kinda diluted it a bit too much.  Water should be administered in drops.

This is a great place for a novice wondering about Islay whiskies.  It is also a great place for a mangy old whisky dawg like me.

At half the price or lower than the 16, Lagavulin 8 years is highly recommended!



















Cheers!



Jason Debly

17 comments:

  1. Hi Jason, what are the chances of finding this in the NB or NS?

    Jeff

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. New Brunswick Spirits Festival in November each year brings in a wide variety of single malts, both widely distributed and more limited releases. This may turn up there. The easiest way to find out would be to search the NBLCC website in mid-November and see if it turns up in the online inventory.

      As for NS, I am not sure at all.

      Delete
  2. Hey Jason.. I stumbled across your blog by accident but I'm thrilled! I am a diehard crown royal person and can drink and drink and drink it without getting drunk. Which I really like. There are lots of other drinks that I maybe could have one or two of and that's it. That said, I have been stocking the Glenlivet 12 year for three or four years now. I enjoy it when I have friends over. But just to sit around and drink, I find the crown much smoother and easier. Last night, out with my sister and her husband, and I guess I should say they generally come across as a little arrogant & superior, he ordered very complicated and expensive Manhattans along with sidecars that were stirred, put into tiny glasses Sitting in ice-filled brandy glasses. To me these are two different drinks, and I'm not sure if they intentionally ordered them as a drink and a chaser maybe? Anyway, I ordered a crown royal from my brother-in-law as I was not allowed to go to the bar… and was brought something that I had never had before called pinch. It was nice but not what I was expecting and therefore wasn't prepared for the taste. I think if I had been more prepared I would've enjoyed it more. I believe all he was really trying to do was expose me to that drink. My question is having the choice sitting at a bar w friends, would you order a pinch for yourself (which reminded me more of the Glenlivet) or stick with the crown... Two completely different liquors. Very curious! (Can't wait to try the Lagavulin 8!) cheers to you! TTT

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi!

      I am not a fan of the "Dimple Pinch" and reviewed it here:

      https://jason-scotchreviews.blogspot.ca/2011/09/review-dimple-pinch-15-years-blended.html

      Accordingly, I would never order it and given a choice between that and Glenlivet 12, I would take Glenlivet 12 and use the pinch for my lawnmower if I was ever low on fuel.

      Manhattans and Sidecars are nice whisky based cocktails, using typically bourbon, but I would not think of them as a 'chaser' for whisky. Otherwise, one would find themselves loaded pretty quick. These cocktails are great on their own on a summer's eve.

      Crown Royal is very nice, but if you are in the USA, try some bourbons that are equally smooth like Basil Hayden's.

      Cheers!

      Delete
  3. Nice review- I was wondering about this one!

    I'm a bit skeptical of your quoted price in NH though. It has been selling there for $65 since they first got it in June:
    http://www.liquorandwineoutlets.com/sales_and_promotions/current_price_list
    This month the 16 is on sale there for $73.
    Is the extra 8 years of maturation worth $8?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Laga 16 for $73 is a far better value than the 8yrs at $65.

      My friend was pretty sure he paid around $40. But, I will talk to him again and find out if I am mistaken (a frequent occurrence).

      Nevertheless, I think even at $65 I would definitely buy the Laga 8yrs.

      Delete
    2. My friend said he paid $50 which was on sale. Not bad. Will amend post accordingly.

      Delete
  4. LAGAVULIN 8YR200TH ANNIVERSARY LTD EDITN

    Size: 750mL

    Price: $64.99

    From NH Liquor Store

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would have sworn there was no colorant added. It's practically clear. If there is any e150A in there it is very little. I agree with you, it's excellent stuff and good to see Lagavulin putting an age statement on a young whisky. Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  6. For those of us in California near a Trader Joe's we have Finlaggan at $19 US. From my taste, it seems to be a young Lagavulin. I hope they do not stop supplying TJs to sell it themselves as Lagavulin 8-year. I would love to try the 8, but so far haven't noticed it here. I have found Lagavulin 16 at Costco here for $59, though it is a bit more now... still a great value.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have heard very good things about Finlaggan. Certainly at $19 it sounds like a bargain. Lagavulin 8 is a new release but I would imagine it would appear in Cali. Thanks for commenting!

      Delete
  7. Those prices bug me big time !!!! Down here the 8 yr is $89 and 16 yr is $90 (but it the 16 $ changes at the drop of a hat!) I can get the 8yr for $80... tempted to grab....
    Hey, Have you heard of the Bruichladdich range ? They sit around the $100 and a friend with similar tastes is rapt with them...
    AL (from OZ)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Grabbed the 8yr.... tried it Friday night Drinking it neat won out over water... we might added too much as well. Very nice .. this one.
    Beautiful peat & smoke..yes.. fruitiness in the middle ash on the finish....lovely... will wait to compare to the 16yr (yet to open)been a while... so it's due for another crack at it... My last review wasn't very complimentary.
    AL

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jason, great blog! What do you think of the 16 year old version of this scotch? Just tried it and really thought it tasted like burning rubber crossed with an old cigar ashtray. Are my taste buds too plebian or do you feel there is something to my synopsis? I'd like to find a scotch that tasted like Teacher's, rich and mellow, but more sophisticated and complex. It doesn't have to be a single malt. Do you have any suggestions for me. Thanks, Jason

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! I really like Lagavulin 16 years. I think it is very good and maybe you should give it another go. Now, if you tried it in a bar, possible food you ate before or other drinks interfered with your palate's ability to appreciate that great Islay Malt. Another possible issue is the bar bottle might have been open for a few years and lots of air in it degraded it. Finally, Islay whiskies like Laga 16 are not ones to start trying when you are used to easy going blends.

      Tastes like Teacher's, rich and mellow? That's a tough one. For a blend try Te Bheagh if you can find it. Islay Mist 8 years, Balvenie Double Wood 12 or even Johnnie Walker 12. Johnnie Walker 12 may be the ticket but take a little sip and add a teaspoon of water to a double pour and see what you think.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Delete