Tasting Notes: Lagavulin – Jazz Festival 2013

Lagavulin Warehouse Tasting

Since 2011 Lagavulin has been the proud sponsor of the annual Islay Jazz Festival. To mark these occasions Lagavulin has released a limited edition bottling that is only available from the distillery. The 2013 release is an 18 year old expression selected by local Lagavulin legend Iain MacArthur, which has been finished in sherry butts and limited to 1,500 bottles. The Jazz Festival releases’ value have sky-rocketed in the following years. Originally available at the distillery for £99, the 2011 expression is fetching close to £500 per bottle at auction after just 5 years, and this superb 2013 expression has similarly inflated up to 3x its original RRP. BUT it’s not all about price – it’s the whisky inside that counts and with that in mind…

ABV: 51.9%

Nose

M: Classic Lagavulin straight off with peat smoke and a hint of dark sugar sweetness. It’s a rounder, richer nose though.

Taste

M: All peat and smoke upfront but it subdues and smoothes out to a delicious warm vanilla fudge.

Finish

M: Dries up pretty quickly but leaves a sweet smoky hint. Like a rich hickory-smoked chunk of barbecued pork but in liquid form. Fruity spices are left behind but balanced with that fudge-like texture and finish.

Verdict

M: A rare gem. A perfect combination of powerful peatiness, caramel sweetness and fudge smoothness. The standard Lagavulin 16 dram has been seemingly bettered with the extra maturation and sherry finish. It has taken the usual underlying sweetness and fruitiness and enhanced it without the signature veil of peat smoke having been tarnished in any way. If you are lucky (and wealthy) enough to get your hands on one of these today then do so – there’s definitely one less than the original 1,500 bottles left! This is a peathead’s dream. Magnificent.

Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival 2013


 

Side note: This bottle was bought between 3 of us from WU after a superb warehouse tasting at Lagavulin. It was a case of being at the right place at the right time. We polished it off in our cottage overlooking Lagavulin Bay in 2-3 days. We savoured every drop. It was glorious. It was the bottle that was the cherry on the cake – the cake being a week in Islay. If we ever got to taste it again, it would take us right back – as does every drop of the “standard” 16 year old (and what a standard that is). We also learned the valuable lesson that if you ever want to invest in a bottle then always buy two, because once it’s gone, it is gone, and at £300 per bottle currently, we don’t think we may ever get to try it again.

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