Lagavulin 1991 Casks of Distinction #5403

Lagavulin 1991 Casks of Distinction #5403

A couple of weeks ago a 30 year old Lagavulin single cask was announced. It is part of the Casks of Distinction series, which unites rare single casks from the Diageo portfolio, usually very old whisky and often from closed distilleries as well.

This Lagavulin is a 1991 vintage, taken from a first fill European oak cask that was seasoned with a proprietary blend of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez wines. Mind that I’m writing wine as there’s apparently no proper accreditation from the sherry region (where a mix of Oloroso and PX would have to be called Cream sherry anyway). Interesting!

Usually Casks of Distinction bottlings have one wealthy owner. In this case there are four: the Hong Kong Whisky Fellows and House Welley Whisky bar, together with Boris and Sebastian from Wu Dram Clan and Christoph Kirsch.


Lagavulin 30 yo 1991 (44,3%, OB ‘Casks of Distinction’ for HKWF / House Welley / Kirsch / Wu Dram Clan 2022, first fill European oak Oloroso / PX puncheon #5403, 318 btl.)

Nose: the balance between (faded) peat and (clean) sherry is perfect. Perhaps also a little sharper more vivid than I expected. A lot of pipe tobacco and humidor, mixing with black olives in brine and scorched oranges. Tarry ropes, polished brassware and resinous oils. Then leathery and meaty notes, caraway seeds and forest earth with moss and mushrooms. Stewed rhubarb, blackcurrant and plum in the background, sourish fruits with a faint balsamic edge. More Oloroso than PX I’d say – good. Overall a very complex dram.

Mouth: gentle peat and gentle sherry again, with a very accessible ABV as well. There are sourish tobacco leaves, Seville oranges, briney water, Pu-Erh tea and hints of raspberry. Plenty of leather and earthy notes. Hints of grilled bacon in the distance. Then liquorice and ginseng, hints of stout beer and charcoal. It’s rather vertical at times, becoming increasingly medicinal and resinous towards the end.

Finish: long and savoury, no more fruits now. Instead we find cold ashes, tobacco, more chocolate stout and a faint oaky edge.

A really nice profile, certainly not docile after all these years. It’s not as warm as I expected from Lagavulin and not as rich as I expected from this “sherry cask” either. While I planned to sit back and relax, it kept me on the edge of my chair. A nice sweet-sour-savoury combination with a sharp edge. Around € 3750, but I believe all bottles have been allocated.