Lagavulin distillery nestles on the south coast of the Scottish Island of Islay and has done so since 1816. Owned by Diageo it produces 2,250,000 liters of spirit per year.
Each year it, alongside the other Islay distilleries, produces a limited release expression bottled for the annual Islay whisky and music festival Feis Ile.
This year the Lagavulin Festival bottling was double matured in Moscatel Cask wood (Moscatel being a fortified and aromatic sweet wine from Portugal).
It is 16 years old, was bottled at at a natural cask strength of 55.8%abv and was a limited edition run of 6,000 bottles with an RRP of £125.
I didn’t manage to pick up a bottle this year but my good friend The Whisky Wingman did and generously gifted me a sample.
Lagavulin Feis Ile 2017, OB, 16yo, 55.8%abv, sourced via sample swap.
On the nose there is warm peat smoke met with a intense sweetness. Ashy lemons and some charred vanilla mix with a slight musty feeling. There is a light fruitiness here, lemon zest and fruit cocktail.
The palate is signature Lagavulin, smoky, peaty, rich and with a good fruitiness. The nose gave hints of light fruit, however the palate contains some much deeper notes, perhaps a touch of raspberry jam, but made with a touch too little sugar. Given time there is some well smoked ham and a very distinct meatiness. It is a little on the hot side, quite powerfully jumping between the sweet and smoke.
The finish is chocolaty and peppery with a good mix of coastal notes, some lingering wood amongst the hedgerow fruits before the returning peat fades away.
At its natural strength I wasn’t too sure about this, it just seemed a little too potent.
The addition of some water massively attenuates and really makes a remarkable difference, bringing balance and tempers the undiluted flavours.
There are still a few bottles available to purchase online, however at a bit of a premium.
The original £125 RRP was a bit of a stretch, being over double the price of the standard 16, however some of current prices, including those at auction, will only be paid by the more hardcore Laga fans.