Lagavulin 1997 Distiller’s Edition Double Review


In case some of you haven’t noticed, I’m slowly filling my blog with some posts of notes I’ve taken before I started the blog. I’ve been making tasting notes for a little under two years now and I recommend it to everyone, it really helps you figure out what you like and develops your ability to notice the little nuances in every drink.

Lagavulin is one of the Big Three distilleries lying on Islay’s South coast, along with Ardbeg and Laphroaig. They’re known for their sherried, heavily peated malt which is generally only released as a 16 year old expression, however there are two annual limited releases, a 12 year old cask strength bottling and a PX finished version of the 16 year old called the Distiller’s Edition. PX is a type of very sweet, sticky sherry. It has a lot of cough syrupy and figgy tastes to it.

These notes are for the 2013 release of the Distiller’s Edition, distilled in 1997. I’ve heard it’s one of the better releases, but I haven’t tried any others so nothing to compare with.

This popped up in the 2016 Tapuz Blind Tasting competition, and I got it completely wrong, despite having an open bottle of the stuff at home. So I thought it would be interesting to post my notes from my own bottle which I made a few months ago and from the blind tasting.

Aged 16 years. 43%ABV. Finished in PX casks

Notes from my own bottle, reviewed on reddit on 27/11/15

Nose: Mineral peat. Seaside rocks. Jasmine tea. Maraschino cherries. Dust (like that fine desert sandstorm stuff). Glazed brisket (possibly what glazed ham smells like, never tried it). Cooked plums. Goji berries. Bit of a waxy note. Unsmoked tobacco.

Palate: Dust. Mineral peat. Salt. Big waves of them. Eventually slows down and some juicy dark fruits shine through. Some caramelized nuts. Irish cream. Bitter chocolate. Bit of licorice, those hard, bitter pastilles you get wherever the authentic stuff comes from.

Finish: Medium-Long. Maraschino cherries, bitter espresso. glazed meat. More dark chocolate, possibly a good chocolate liqueur. A bit of that sticky figgy note in PX sherry.

Notes from the Blind Tasting Competition

Smells like a Laphroaig. Darker than I recall the 10, too young to be the 15. Almost like a 46%ABV ardbeg uigeadail. Too thick to be Lagavulin. Sherry+smells like young Laphroaig = Kilchoman Loch Gorm?

Nose: Pine cones. Scorched fruit. Mineral peat. Medicinal. Farmy note. Some malt (young). For sure some wine influence, sherry, possibly something sweeter, PX maybe. Whole black olives. Salt. Soot. Old engine oil (thick and dirty).

Palate: Quite aggressive and peppery (young). Mineral note. Juicy, bitter fruits, mainly citrus. A slight herbal note, sage maybe. Farmy note. Earthy peat. Salt.

Finish: Long. Salt. Soot. Pine smoke. Bitter fruits.

Guess: Loch Gorm.


Would I buy this: Well, I did.

Would I buy this in  bar: Probably.

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes.

VFM: 4/5

I really like the way the PX works with Lagavulin’s peaty profile. Quite a thick, oily, sooty whisky. It’s always interesting to see what you notice and don’t notice when comparing blind notes to regular notes. It did feel a lot younger than it is when tasted blind, and I picked up on the sherry but not that it was PX, but I still liked it a lot. The more recent versions don’t cost much more than the regular 16 year old and are well worth it if you like sweet and peat together.


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