Each year Lagavulin is releasing a limited cask strength bottling to mark the Islay Jazz Festival. When I read the news about the 2021 edition, I was really curious. How would the Lagavulin distillate cope with a Mezcal cask finish? Earthy, smoky whisky and then the earthy, smoky mezcal – would they cancel each other out or become stronger? It’s definitely the first Lagavulin to try Mezcal finishing, and one of the first single malt whiskies altogether.
This was only available through malts.com with UK shipping. Luckily our Dutch neighbour Tom managed to get a bottle and offered to sell a sample. Many thanks!
Lagavulin 13 yo ‘Islay Jazz Festival 2021’ (54,8%, OB 2021, ex-Mezcal cask finish, 3000 btl.)
Nose: starts quite sharp, with some pickled gherkins coming out, preserved lemons and hickory smoke. Jalapeño sauce. Gradually becoming warmer and wider, with grilled meat and a nice combination of pineapple and vanilla. An aromatic, almost fragrant herbal note as well.
Mouth: plenty of ashes, mixing with sweet smoke but also this tangy, slightly bitter herbal note. A sour lemon and salt combo. A sharp boozy hint of… well… tequila. Once this kick is gone, it leaves you with warming smoke, charred meat, crushed black peppercorns and a little mocha sweetness.
Finish: very long and clean, with some peppery heat, herbs, coffee beans and smouldering ashes.
So yes, the Mezcal adds an extra layer of herbal notes and sharpness. While the nose is lovely, it becomes quite narrow, slightly austere on the palate. It struggles to win me over entirely (I keep thinking how good the Lagavulin 12 Year Old is), but I applaud the experiment. Originally sold for £ 160, now only available at a premium in the secondary market.