...and this release is much weaker than the first two (that were bottled to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Lagavulin). While the nose still is very good the tannins take their toll both on the palate and during the finish which turns this dram unpleasantly bitter-astringent. It seems to me as if they now use a share of virgin oak casks for these batches - hence this is no Traditional Scotch any longer but just another modern style whisky. Maybe I will do a head-to-head versus a bottle of the very first batch (that I stocked for my retirement), soon...
The colour is pale straw and the nose still offers that powerful Lagavulin combo of both barley sugars and peat on full throttle. Later some spices and wooden notes join in without any off-note at all. It is not really complex but very impressive and clean. I think there is no difference to the first releases...
The taste is two-dimensional on these barley sugars and peaty flavours with spices and a bitter herbal-tobacco note added. I remember this much better with the very first batch and a little better with the second one. To be honest, this release is too bitter for my taste - both the peats and the tannins drive it that way, unfortunately.
The dram arrives warming and coating on the palate but it shows a significant drying-astringent feeling too (heavy tannins, do they partly use virgin oak now?) that is not to my liking and that was not with the 2016 batches. The finish is long and adds more spices but it turns bitter-astringent again (the tannins do their nasty work). Water releases some more aromas in the nose (waxy-oily) but it increases the bitter-astringent moments too. I like this dram best just a little reduced to about 45% abv.