Lagavulin 8 Years is a limited edition whisky put out by the distillery to promote their 200th anniversary. This is an interesting move by a distillery, to put out something that’s younger than its flagship whisky (Lagavulin 16) to celebrate the milestone. Most distilleries put out something older or pull from the archives to create something unique and rare, so what was the reasoning for putting something out that’s 1/2 the age of the standard Lag?
According to Dr. Nick Morgan, Diageo Director of Whisky Outreach, it was done because they “wanted the anniversary to be something that could be celebrated by as many people as possible”. The Lagavulin 8 Years was also done as an homage to Alfred Barnard who visited the distillery in 1887 and tasted an 8 year Lagavulin which he apparently enjoyed and wrote about. In our current age-statement obsessed culture it’s bold move by the distillery so let’s dig in to the Lagavulin 8 Years and see how it all nets out.
Lagavulin 8 Years Info
Region: Isaly, Scotland
Mashbill: 100% Malted barley
Cask: Mostly ex-Bourbon casks
Age: 8 years
Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color
Lagavulin 8 Years Review
Light yellow, almost clear
Pears and apples bowl out of the glass followed by notes of cinnamon, honey, peat and vanilla rich spirity malt with a light bit of bubblegum. I’ve never encountered bubblegum in any Lagavulin I’ve had, but that’s the thing about young whisky; it reveals characteristics that might get covered up the older it gets.
Orchard fruit and cinnamon again lead the pack followed by notes of peat, vanilla, malt, saline, white pepper and a bit of bubblegum. I’m fascinated by this bubblegum note. I usually get a cloying bubblegum note with French Oak, but everything I’ve read about the Lagavulin 8 says it’s mostly ex-bourbon casks. So interesting.
Long peaty road with twists of vanilla, malt, orchard fruit and bubblegum.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Decent balance, thin body and a light feel.
Lagavulin 8 Years is a fruity, vanilla laden and slightly spirity rendition of Lagavulin that’s fun to drink even if it’s not wildly complex. It’s a whisky that brings a unique character to the table and fully displays a previously unseen side of the Lagavulin distillery – In the mass market anyways. In the indie world, young Lagavulins have been around for a while, but none have been able to carry the Lagavulin name for legal reasons.
Releasing this as their big anniversary bottling is a bold move by the distillery and might be a portent of things to come. It’s true that young whisky, especially peated whisky, can be good. It’s Not as rich as older whisky, but good and different, and it’s interesting to see a distillery showcasing it so prominently. I wonder how many other distilleries will follow in the Lagavulin 8 Years’ footsteps and release a younger age-stated version in a way that allows them to test the market and see how it reacts.
SCORE: 83-86/100 (B, not consumed at home)