gavin smith




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Lagavulin, 12-year-old (Scotland)
Until 1987, Lagavulin was usually bottled as a 12-year-old, but was subsequently offered in its Classic Malts guise at 16. This cask strength 2006 Special Release, matured in refill American oak casks, offers the opportunity to sample a younger Lagavulin than most of us are now accustomed to, though nothing like as young as some of the Islay distillery expressions being offered of late! This is far from being a subtle malt, but it possesses an engaging and refreshing exuberance. It hits you like an Islay cosh, assaulting the nose in intense fashion with massive, comparatively sweet peat, sharp fruit and medicinal notes. Explosive in the mouth, too. Initially sweet and malty, getting progressively bolder, and building to a crescendo of hot peat and salt. The finish is long and biscuity, with burnt fish boxes. More of an American ‘muscle car’ than a classic limousine, this is veritably a big beast, but an eminently affordable and quite delightful whisky. 57.7% ABV, 70cl, £40, specialist whisky merchants.

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