To celebrate its 200th anniversary Lagavulin has released a limited edition 25-year-old whisky that was the jewel in the crown of an exceptional night of celebration. Neil ‘two cocktails’ Hennessy-Vass took along his camera, palate but hid the plastic when the price of the 25 year-old was announced.
Lagavulin has celebrated its 200th anniversary with a limited edition 25-year-old whisky and a Scottish feast fit for a king.
The first thing we all learnt at this illustrious gathering was that it is not known exactly when the 200th birthday of Lagavulin is. The team at the distillery have made an educated guess. This was to be the last guess of the evening as I discovered the very special birthday present that Lagavulin are offering to the world at a price…. but I’ll come to that later.
After the now customary and I must say inventive whisky cocktails (“It looks as though you’ve got two on the go there Neil!” – ed) all 200 or so guests (I tried to count but could only really estimate…) sat down at long trestle tables not unlike a national celebration for the Queen.
Except in this case everything was of a Scottish hue.
The food was all lobster and razor clams with iced whisky tea and honeycomb delivered on wooden platters with a hammer to break off as much as you needed.
Some people, I noticed needed a lot.
Towards the end of the feast an introduction was made to the latest offering from Lagavulin. At 25 years old it represented a characteristic celebration of the craftsmen of Islay who had made it.
The distillery is on a site that offers no room for expansion so demand for their rather special products often exceeds availability. This puts them in an enviable position of making only the best.
The 200th year honorary release of the 25-year-old whisky has a deep chestnut appearance with what can only be described as a complex nose.
The tasting notes reveal that on a good day you could experience no less than 24 different palate references.
I must confess to not detecting that many but what I did get was fruit, smoke, wood-polish and peat, lots of peat. With water the 25 year-old offered a touch of milk chocolate. The finish is long, very long and smooth with a sweet honeyed elegance that takes you all the way through salt and chilli to a splendid end of burnt orange peel that makes you start to wonder when the next glass will come around.
There were other offerings on the night, the very respectable 8 year-old and the even better 16 year-old but in that way a salesman might show you the best model in the shop then move onto your ‘reality’ choice the 25 year-old was a clear winner for me. And possibly everyone else assembled.
Every birthday deserves a present and Lagavulin has certainly delivered one with their limited edition sherry oaked cask tipple of only 8000 bottles released worldwide.
And, as they say, the sting might be in the tail depending on where your priorities lie.
If you’re looking for a smooth Mercedes SL kind of ride with the right budget then you will be in luck and the price of £800 a bottle will not bat either of your eyelids.
For us mere mortals and creative types I might be looking at a slightly lower number, like the 16 year-old.
Neil Hennessy-Vass is one of the UK’s leading food and drink photographers as well as having a particular liking for fine whisky. See more of his work here