Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lagavulin 16 year

Photobucket   While not my first experience, early in my embrace of the malt there was peat, more specifically, the sweet smoky earthen tarry salty love that is also known as Lagavulin 16 year. The isle of Islay which Lagavulin calls home is synonymous with peat and all its divisive glory. One either loves peat or hates it and I’ve yet to meet anyone who waddles with indecision. But what is peat? Peat is quite simply a century’s long compressed accumulation of decayed vegetation matter along with whatever else may have happened to die and decompose there. Sounds gross but hey, that’s Mother Nature and with a little help from man Mother Nature gives me Lagavulin.
All is well in my world, indeed.
Lagavulin shares its coastline with two other distilleries but shares its water with no one. No one. The malt Lagavulin smokes ala peat comes from the maltings at Port Ellen, another vaunted distillery in Scotland I shall explore elsewhere. Time is not of essence at Lagavulin as more than 15 hours are taken during distillation before spirit meets her long slumber in barrels. This is longer than any distillery within the green hills and craggy shores of Scotland.
Today makes the second bottle of Lagavulin to tease and delight my eager burgundian senses. Lagavulin has more bottlings beyond the 16 year but there is just something about this particular age which is both soothing and invigorating…a little bit of home, if I do say so myself.

Color: ambers, mahogany, and garnets. Clear and deep.

Nose: peat and smoke, mud and muck, leather and tannins. Apple cores and musk in the back. Smells just before a rain shower and right after a rain shower. Sea salt weaves in and out. Hibiscus.

Body: swirls oily, thick, and heavy. Mouthcoating. Sticky in the middle which lingers long. Tingle along inner lips and top of tongue.

Palate: oily – smoke and peat, dirty and leathery. Lovely rancid burnt tarry finish. More leather along with some saddlebags. Old. Musk, sweat, salt, seaweed, and salt. Mossy shores. Fish scales. Fishing docks. Orange oils. Peat – char and tar.

Finish: long and lingering and delicate all at the same time. Rides flavor wave to the point of overwhelming…and doesn’t. Musk, leather, char, and peat have a party in my breath. Soothing. Of hearth and home.

Lagavulin 16 year is home. I can’t think really of any other way to describe our relationship any other way. Tis not the same kind of home one enjoys with her Love and family but the kind of home, kinship if you will, one feels with the Earth and with Time. This is Lagavulin. Get yourself some.

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