One of the most consistently highly rated drams over the last 20 years, Lagavulin is one of the three current peat monsters of Islay and arguements can be made that it is the best.Lagavulin (pronounced "Lagga-voolin") means "the hollow where the mill is" and two ancient millstones survive to this day. Lagavulin legitimately claims to being one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Distilling on the site is thought to date from as early as 1742. In the late 1700s it is believed that there were up to ten illicit stills operating in the district (by a curious twist of fate, Islay was the only place in Scotland where no Excise officer operated between 1707 and 1823). By the 1830s only two distilleries remained in the bay. In 1837 these distilleries amalgamated to form Lagavulin. At this stage the distillery was under the ownership of the Graham brothers and James Logan Mackie. By 1875 Lagavulin was producing 75,000 gallons of whisky and in 1890 it was bought by Mackie & Co of Glasgow. Lagavulin became the distillery of "Restless Peter" Mackie, creator of the "White Horse" blend.
I've always felt that Lagavulin was something to be enjoyed after a fine dinner and to that end, that is when I did this tasting. Steaks on the grill with sautéed onions and mushrooms, potatoes out of our garden, sweet corn from the field down the road and homemade cucumber and tomato salad made for a fine diner out on the deck.
The nose is deep with peat, salt, sherry and iodine all rising out of the glass. It is an olfactory assault but in the best possible way. Tasting is BIG sherry in an almost chewy peat thickness with the well known Islay medicinal/iodine/saltiness swirling around. The finish is HUGE and very long lasting with peat. oak, salt and malt assailing all parts of the tongue until finally a maltiness ends everything minutes later.
Lagavulin has become much better known since 1988 when it was selected to be one of the "Classic Malts" by UDV and if anything it has gotten better over the years. Simply a must have for any lover of the Islay style. An ACE in every sense.
Edited by AVB, 21 January 2007 - 10:58 AM.