Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em… Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1991
I’m a sucker for a story - and Lagavulin is an example of the rich history and mysteries of Scotch. There are rumours that Johnny Depp continued to order this drink to smell it after stopping drinking hard liquor and other rumours that despite the distillery having a rich history of creating magical elixirs since 1816 that they were secretly brewing in the mid-1700′s.
For those of you new to the world of Scotch, there are essentially two accepted ways to taste scotch: neat (out of the bottle) or with a small amount of water (preferably mineral water as the tap can taint the flavor with it’s additions of chlorine and fluorides). Some claim that neat is the only way to enjoy it’s essence while others are proponents of a tiny amount of H2O to open up the flavors contained inside. Ice is frowned on as it would add too much water and take away from the true flavors you are about to experience.
It is my experience that most people do not enjoy Scotch because they simply try to drink too much of it. Similar to Brandy, the ideal sip is enough to mix with your saliva without having to swallow. The tiniest of sips is enough to flavor your entire mouth. A small glass can take hours to consume (or minutes if you are especially keen) and does not need to be rushed. Be patient with a glass of Scotch – respect that it took years and years to arrive at it’s present flavor and character. If your goal is to get drunk, choose another drink that’s a quicker swallow (and likely less expensive).
Purists would shudder at the next suggestion – if you are new to Scotch and trying to develop a taste for such, drink a beer at the same time. Beer can pace your consumption of Scotch and balance the strong flavors that, with time, become the entire reason for savouring. Those new to Scotch may want to smell and taste at different times as both can be overwhelming initially.
On to the topic at hand – this special edition of Lagavulin bottled in 2008. Rich caramel in color and strong on the nose, this lovely edition of Scotch is finished in Sherry Casks. There is a sweetness to the Scotch that quickly becomes a strong flavor of smoke. Those new to Scotch or who enjoy the sweeter and smoother tastes they may find this overwhelming. It`s a taste of a fall campfire and the closest thing to a liquid cigar that I have sampled.
Many reviews call this a peaty Scotch – while full bodied, I find the prevalence of smoke is far greater than the peat that underlays it (a later review of Laphroig will introduce a truly peaty Scotch). There are hints of fruit and wood and a lingering taste of smoke that will last you the full evening and, possibly, into the next day.
This is a glass to reflect over – a long, quiet evening of contemplation is the perfect accompaniment.