Treasured around the world as one of the most special of all Single Malts, Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky has captivated many over the centuries since official – or should that be legal? – distillation began in 1816.
One of the most notable in that long line of whisky lovers was the father of modern whisky journalism, Alfred Barnard. In 1880, the travelling expert sampled an 8 Year Old Lagavulin during a visit to Islay, describing it as “exceptionally fine” and “held in high repute”. He went on the declare Lagavulin to be “one of the most prominent” of the few Scotch distillers making Single Malt Whisky at the time.
His review has been called prophetic by some, given the massive global following the whisky now has. But we like to think he was just confirming what locals already knew: this was a great whisky from the very start. So today, we mark 200 years of Lagavulin with a nod to Barnard, through the launch of the first Lagavulin 8 Year Old for decades.
All whiskies coming from the Lagavulin Distillery are famous for their majestic nose of Hebridean peat smoke, richly textured and complex flavours and its long, sweet and power-driven finish – the sum total of the passion, heritage and skills that lie behind its crafting.
However, this latest release more than meets the standards set by the 16 Year Old, the Distillers Edition and Special Release 12 Year Old. The 8 Year Old somehow manages to be even bigger on the palate than expected: a magnificently full on Lagavulin taste, sweet, smoky and warming, with a growing, smoky pungency and a very long finish. Read the tasting notes for a better idea of the 8 Year Old’s profile.
The release is a highlight in a year-long celebration which includes events and tastings around the world. There will also be a video booth on site at the distillery: the idea is to connect as many people to Islay as possible, both physically and virtually, and that includes capturing the many stories of staff and visitors share this magical place and this remarkable whisky.
Georgie Crawford, distillery manager at the Lagavulin distillery explains: “Although many things have stayed the same since Alfred Barnard first came to see us on Islay, visitors to the distillery will also notice some changes to mark this special year. We welcome you all to visit us and see for yourselves.”
If you are planning a visit, distillery opening times can be found here. Lagavulin will also be holding an open day on the 21st of May as part of 2016’s Islay Festival – or 'Fèis Ìle' – and to mark World Whisky Day.
Those who do make the journey to meet the islanders and explore the legacy of Lagavulin will find the cramped, chaotic nature of the distillery’s sea front location means it will never be expanded. And then they’ll understand why demand for this and every other release will always exceed supply – though neither we, people of Islay, nor Barnard himself would have it any other way.