Diageo celebrated Feis Ile 2021 with two bottlings: the Caol Ila 12 Years Moscatel finish and this Lagavulin 13 Year Old. It was initially matured in refill American oak before being transferred to heavily charred Port-seasoned barrels.
The (official) bottle image doesn’t give the right impression. In reality the whisky is quite light, not as dark as the image suggests. It’s certainly not showing a pink hue or anything else that would indicate a heavy wine influence.
Lagavulin 13 yo (56,1%, OB for Feis Ile 2021, Port cask finish, 6000 btl.)
Nose: really good. There’s (subtle) wood smoke and tarry rope, with coal dust, linseed oil and hints of iodine. It also shows a series of sweet notes, like red grapes, raisins and blackcurrant. Vanilla roundness (heavily baked butter biscuits), as well as ginger and blood orange. Hints of coffee. Not the smokiest Lagavulin, closer to a Distillers Edition, but it certainly steers clear of the typical Port pitfalls.
Mouth: dialed up a notch. More smoke now, with a lot of dark sweetness. Sweet wine comes out, as well as maple syrup, toffee and chocolate. A sudden burst of black peppercorns appears. Also a lemon and salt combo. A bit rougher and definitely more savoury after a while, on earthy notes, burning leaves and a herbal bitterness.
Finish: quite long but a bit less expressive now, with bitter charred notes, chilli, ashes and a toffee sweetness.
High char indeed, which adds sweetness to the dark fruits of the Port. This is not a classic Lagavulin profile, but I really like it. Looking at the Whiskybase comments, not everyone seems to be convinced though. Thanks for the sample, Tom! Originally available for £ 160, now only with a premium. Check TyndrumWhisky for instance.