Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1997 Review


“Sweet Sixteen”

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Lagavulin Distillers Edition 1997 (Batch 4/502)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 16 Years
ABV: 43% 
Chill-Filtration: Yes 
Whisky Review # 603
Buying Advice: 😊 Positive. Good Malt although I personally prefer the regular 16 Years.

Colour: Rich Gold (Artificially coloured) 

Nose: This is only my second Lagavulin and I'm nosing and tasting this DE right after having reviewed the Lagavulin 16 Years for the second time. On the Nose, the 1997 DE is a bit shy in comparison. So be sure to give it enough time in the glass before Nosing. The PX finish did add some Aromas but also slightly diluted the Islay character of the Lagavulin. The Cold Smoke and Earthy Peat are still there off course but they remain in the background together with the soft Tar, the Soot, the Salt Water, the Fish and the Iodine. I find Toasted Barley, Brown Sugar, Treacle, Pine Resin, Dried Fruits (Raisins, Plums and Apples), Lemon, Butterscotch, Vanilla, Sour Red Grapes, Tobacco, Herbal Tea, Leather, Salted Almonds, Cinnamon, Cloves, Mint, Oregano and Dark Chocolate. The Nose is Sweet but not overly so and does present some Mineral notes as well. The Alcohol seems more present than in the 16 Years. Remarkable! It's a pleasant Nose but it is a little Shy and Laid-Back, especially in the direct confrontation with the 16 Years. 

Palate: Slightly Thin and quite a bit Sweeter as expected. The PX casks did their trick and manage to adjust the Islay features. If that's a good thing or not is up to one's personal taste. For me it's perhaps a little too sweet. I find Toasted Malt, Vanilla, Dusty Peat, light Cold Smoke, Ashes, Tar and Brine, lightly Smoked Fish or Shell Fish, Wet Grass, Tobacco, Leather, Herbal Tea, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Figs and Apple, slightly Sour Red Grapes, Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Mint, Licorice and hints of Cocoa and Dark Chocolate.  

Finish: Middle-Long and slightly Thin but pleasant and Well-Balanced with a good combination of Sweet, Sour, Salt, Oak and Spices. Perhaps a little Bitter towards the end. I find Toasted Cereals, Salted Butter, Cold Smoke, Dusty Peat, Ashes, light Iodine, Green Apple, Lemon, slightly Sour Red Grapes, Tobacco, Salted Butter, Leather, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Licorice, Menthol, Oak, light Tar and a hint of Bitter Chocolate and Espresso.   

This Lagavulin does not like added Water. Better sip it neat!

Rating: 85.5   

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5


General Remarks:

The Lagavulin Distillery is located near Port Ellen on the island of Islay. It was founded in 1816 by John Johnston. It's part of the Diageo Group. The distillery has a very limited core range i.e. the 12 Year old CS, the 16 and the Distillery Edition that was launched for the first time in 1998. It is basically a standard 16 Year old that matured in Ex-Bourbon casks before being finished for a couple of months in Ex-Pedro Ximenez Sherry casks. Prices are usually in the 70-100 US Dollar range (March 2017). 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good

Conclusion: The Lagavulin DE 1997 is a good Malt and an almost perfect way to start appreciating Islay Malts. It's a pleasure to sip this Malt and it is extremely drinkable. But it has some flaws when compared to the regular 16 years. The Nose of the DE is quite introvert and it needs a lot of time to open up. I also believe that any Sherry cask finish should enhance the character of the Spirit but not change it too much. In this case however the PX casks did their job a little too good in my opinion. As a result the Lagavulin DE 1997 became a very pleasant Single Malt that many people will enjoy. I did as well but it's a bit too much Middle of the Road. I miss the Edge and Bite of the regular 16 Years. With this statement the prosecution rests and will enjoy another dram. Because it is very drinkable!

Jan van den Ende                                                                    March 20, 2017

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