Finally I have long awaited Lagavulin 8 year old in my hands. I will make him a company with also quiet recently released Laphroaig Lore. As producer notes, its ‘richest ever’ made Lapgroaig. We will check if that might be the truth. Laphroaig Lore is a vat of malts matured in sherry, quarter and ex-Laphroaig casks (N-fill?).
I‘m starting from Lagavulin. Pleasant, fresh aroma, nice balance of sea, citrus fruits and smoke. Clean one. Plate is robust. Full of power, smoke, salt and sea notes. And hint of lemon freshness. I was pleased and surprised. For this age you get great balance and nice body. That clean style reminds me mid-aged Caol Ila malts – good harmony of salt, maritime character and smoke. Expectations were high, but I they were met – we have young monster with great balance and clean character. I believe it will become regular member of the Lagavulin family (because it’s young!). I believe and I hope. I am not a advocate of old malts (most of a time), but I am very demanding for young malts. Market situation forces to provide younger malts which sometimes replace much older long-time market favorites. Few weeks ago in a whisky event I had short discussion about old malts – are they overrated, or to be more exact – not worth a try or event not worth their price and our attention. I always say – if you have a chance – you have to try old whisky. Event all over the world are always good chance to do that without spending a fortune buy whole bottle. You shouldn’t look for great price performance for 30-40+ years malt. Just think that someone matured it over decades. And then it’s easier to understand. When people buy Ferrari, Bentley or whatever expensive, I don’t think they looking for great value for money. So during my lifetime as a whisky lover, I have found more tremendous malts amongst old ones than between youngsters. Anyway, I am very happy with this Lagavulin. Cause there are bunch of disappointing young malts recently released around (from Islay also). Prices are going up, age is going down. Am I sentimental old man or I just love good malt with minimum bullshit and marketing impact?
Ok, let‘s continue and play a bit – I have Laphroaig Lore, which has no age statement and which has written on the label „richest ever Laphroaig“. I hadn‘t tried many different Laphroaigs, so will compare it with what I did and with Lagavulin. We have identical strength which helps. Aroma is more green/raw and more aggressive. More youth, more smoke power. Body is even more robust than aroma. Smoky, maritime sometimes distracted with vanilla and grassy notes giving hint we have quiet young malt. Producer doesn’t give full recipe so we can just guess and speculate. I would say major part is younger that Lagavulin. Of course, it is very likely we have small part of much older malt. Unfortunately, I couldn’t catch sherried part here.
In this case and in my opinion Lagavulin seems more elegant and bit more sweet. And more balanced. I believe there will be plenty people around who would like Laphroaig more. It’s sad we have not much of information about it. It’s a producer’s choice always, but if they would give more information, advanced customer could have more prediction and expectations what’s in the bottle before buying. It seems it’s not good for the seller. It’s better when people buy label or legend, not the contents? I hope we will have more transparency in the future. Customer is becoming more and more educated.