Tasting an Über-Lagavulin from Friends: 21 y.o. Select Cask 1997 for the European Lagavulin Fans with 56,6%

The last whisky of 2018 and the first in 2019 is one of friends and I am glad to have snatched one of the 158 bottles. As you know, a review for people closer to you is difficult, so I promise I will be very strict like my old math teacher Leutenbauer.

Rare 21 y.o. Select Cask

This bottling was done for and chosen by some real malt heads (see picture) who love their Lagavulin dearly. As it is a rare sensation that DIAGEO allows original bottlings for a certain group, this is a special gem. I am very excited and hope this is good (as it was really expensive). Let’s taste:

Comment: Holy…, OmG! This is great from the first whiff. I could smell this for hours and it touches my soul. No joke, this is probably the best nose I had in 2018, full score. Why such praise: very complex and interwoven balance, deep, all elements fit together, like a huge orchestra with all musicians playing yet no instrument takes centre stage. The Tannoy speakers of Lagavulin, full of peaty, medical and leathery goodness paired with maturity. Here we have the precise middle between cask and spirit influence, going hand in hand, not tired but refined – a maelstrom of peat, iodine and sweet wine from very elegant old-style wood, like only the greatest of the great have. 21 is an ideal age for the Lagavulin distillate of this cask type.

I am now getting Shisha tobacco, roasted peanuts, gunpowder tea, dates, bacon-wrapped plums, cedar-wrapped Romeo y Julieta in a mahogany humidor, mmmh, and mint, like having a Mojito in the back of an authentic old Cuban bar. More pleasures chime in: espresso macchiato, chalk, iodine, gorse, kelp, vanilla pod, cough syrup, BBQ-glazed baby back ribs after 12 hours of smoking, bonfire and the combo of good sulphury smoke and peat. Aaaah….

On the palate it doesn’t disappoint at all, yum, but I am almost glad that it doesn’t go on with perfection like before – otherwise I needed more bottles 😉  It is more on the liqueur-side than expected and wins out when drunk in big sips because the body is slick and elegant, no bruiser. Water is not necessary. All the above elements are to be found, but leathery spice paves the way nicely. It somehow unites Lagavulin power with mild and smooth character traits in a slender body.

The finish is earthy and sweet at first, then lit matchstick, flinty gunpowder and an iodine-esque peatiness linger. What a treat and a worthy dram for the occasion – these are the moments … amazing pick, boys! A must-have for the devotee. Free refills, anyone? 😉

Score: 94+

Thanks to Donnie and Boris for the sample.

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