...and the two of us both vote for an old Lagavulin. It offers an incredibly complex and balanced profile with unusual (still) strong peaty notes. Extremely quaffable if you like old Islay drams and guess what - I do! One of my all-time favourite Lagavulin bottlings, no doubt.
[August, 2020] I re-tasted this dram tonight to check my Lagavulin guess again (I just had a 29-years old Caol Ila before). And as someone wrote „undisclosed Laphroaig“ I go for a CI vs. LG vs. LP trial. Oops, tonight‘s nose indeed reminds me rather of a modern Laphroaig while the taste still is more on the Lagavulin side. If this is a Laphroaig than it is certainly one of the best modern Laphies I had so far. Stop guessing, I have to enjoy this dram - sorry, folks.
The colour is yellow gold and the nose offers a fresh and bold Islay profile with adorable fruits, honeys and sugars in a complex maritime peaty setting, this is truly great! Jim thinks this is a South Islay dram but given this nose I doubt and rather opt for one of my beloved Caol Ila. There are dozens of different aromas in a balanced setting without any off-note - Islay at its best! The phenols are quite strong for a such an old dram which is rather unusual but very tasty. After some breathing the nose adds herbs, waxes and saltiness while the peat stays powerful, triple wow! Now I doubt this is a Caol Ila and certainly this is not a Laddie, Bunna or Bowmore. Ardbeg was not active in 1989 (except for some trial distillations) and I miss almost all trademark Laphroaig aromas too, so guess what: This is a Lagavulin (and my friend agrees, finally). What a nice surprise, and a delicious one too...
The taste is multi-layered and wow, extremely good - no, dangerously good. But this is not the taste of an old Caol Ila - this really tastes like an excellent old Lagavulin. To check this I have a dram of this year's Lagavulin Special Release in parallel and yep - the characteristics are comparable if I extrapolate the maturation effect from 12 to almost 30 years. This dram is greatly chewable and offers new impressions all the time. By the way, I like this taste better than the 30-years old distillery bottling of Lagavulin.
The dram arrives warming with some hot peppery moments and an instantly coating effect, a very good mouthfeel actually. The finish is long (what else?) and still adds new impressions, even minutes after I swallowed it. What a finish! Some water releases additional chalky-mineral and machine oil aromas in the nose and turns the taste even more peatier but (like so often) the layers now intermingle. Finally, I like the neat dram best (but the reduced levels are fine too so play around a little with water if you own more than just a sample).