The 16yo has long been to Lagavulin what the 911 was to Porsche but we’re more than happy to see more variants coming out, especially since those are more Turbos than Boxters in our opinion... Okay, enough crappy analogies, let’s try this brand new 21yo, due for later this autumn (we already had a taste of a pre-vatting at the Islay Festival). It’s an important bottling, as it comes from Spanish sherry European oak casks only – not American oak like often with sherry. Besides, we’ve been told that there won’t be any other ‘full sherry’ versions in the future.
Colour: full amber.
Nose: what is striking are the obvious common roots between the old 12yo and this new 21yo. This one is more ‘direct’ at first nosing, though. Sweeter, creamier, immediately on peat plus sherry plus the assembling of both (if you see what I mean)... Simple? Indeed, but just for a few seconds, as it then starts to shoot aromatic arrows one after the other. Menthol, hazelnut oil, oxtail, prunes, orange marmalade, smoked ham, curry, mustard (hints), walnut liqueur. Slight hints of phosphorus (although not like a ‘simple’ bunch of matchsticks). And it goes on, getting wilder now... Game (just like in the old 12yo), eucalyptus (I know brands are not cool but I’d dare to say ‘Vicks’)... And then strawberry jam, sea water... Please take your time when you’ll try this one, the development is ‘very gradual’ but it’s really worth it. A fireworks show.
Mouth: here’s the punch that the 12yo was lacking, but also a slight ‘brutality’ at the attack. A true peaty grip in fact and an extreme ‘ampleur’. Quite some pepper, walnuts, crystallised ginger, strong liquorice, tar, mint and eucalyptus sweets again (very bold!), bitter oranges... And a powerful smokiness. The saltiness grows bolder as well... No sulphur that I can get... Wood ashes, herb liqueurs (green Chartreuse – are you listening, O.?), Havana tobacco (like when you chew your cigar). Also hints of ripe gooseberries and dried longans. And sticky toffee pudding, of course.
Finish: very long, concentrated, ample, salty and liquoricy – amusing how this one makes you thirsty. We also tried it with water, it got more on mint and eucalyptus (and oranges) but other than that the general profile stayed the same. Who said this was an important bottling?