Not a member? - Register and login now.
All registered users can read our entire magazine archive.

has Lagavulin changed?

All your whisky related questions answered here.

has Lagavulin changed?

Postby whiskgeek » Fri Jan 27, 2012 4:45 am

Lagavulin is the whisky that started it all for me, just over ten years ago. In that time, I've had several bottles. But last summer, while at my dad's, I poured myself a glass, and I was halfway through it before I remembered it was Lagavulin.

It's changed.

It's lost that sharp wood smoke flavor, which is my favorite part. While it's still excellent, it's lost some of what made it stand apart from some other Islay malts. With the peat and tar notes, it reminded me of some Laphroiags I've had, and maybe a Caol Isla or two.

I asked my dad what he thought. He said he hadn't noticed a change, but said someone else had commented to him about it. Have any of you noticed anything odd?

I had read an interview, last year, with Lagavulin's distillery manager, who mentioned the difficulty of maintaining consistency. Has she failed, or has this issue been years in the making? Is this just natural variation over time? What do you think?
User avatar
whiskgeek
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 223
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:43 am
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby Novice Scotch Fan » Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:04 am

I think you have to remember that scotch whisky is ultimately an organic substance and is hard to replicate in an identical fashion each year. So, it is understandable that there will be variation from time to time.

I have noted that last year's Lagavulin 16 is softer than in past years.
User avatar
Novice Scotch Fan
Gold Member
 
Posts: 661
Joined: Wed Aug 06, 2008 7:22 pm

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby AmericanDaughter » Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:44 am

We had a great visit at Lagavullin last year and had a wearhouse tasting with Pinkie. I am sure they told us that the spirit all goes off Islay for the master blenders to create the whiskies with, 16 years after being in the barrells. Does that mean its a long slow change?

We have only been drinking whisky in the last few years but really like the big smokey flavours of the Islay whiskies and Lagavulin tastes great to us but never tried it before 2010.

Slainte
AmericanDaughter
New member
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 28, 2012 9:32 am

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby bredman » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:45 pm

The Laga 16 has been on a slow decline. It's still a great whisky but the nature of the beast has gradually altered.
User avatar
bredman
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1050
Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2010 2:56 pm

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby Fscott » Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:27 pm

I asked the same question when I joined this forum. I remember being blown away by Laga 16 at a New Year's Eve dinner. It was perhaps the third single malt I had ever tried and it was a smoky, medicinal mule kick.

I have a bottle open now and it almost reminds me of a Bowmore - more stewed fruits and dark chocolate.

I have often wondered if it was just me and my more developed whisky palate or if it has really changed. As mentioned above it's still a great whisky, but I believe it has in fact become tamer.
Fscott
New member
 
Posts: 56
Joined: Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:17 pm

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby Ganga » Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:24 am

I disagree with the comment of "slow" decline. Rather I have found it to vary quite abit through the years. The 2007 bottling I had was brilliant; much better than stuff I had around 2005. Other since then have been up and down and I believe the profile along with quality has varied as well.
Ganga
Matured cask
 
Posts: 23824
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2006 11:57 pm
Location: Sylmar, CA

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby corbuso » Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:38 pm

Lagavulin has changed, since the Lagavulin bottled until 2010 contained a certain proportion of highly peated Lagavulin. In addition, since the 1990s, there has been a changed in wood policy, problems of limited stocks, in particular of sherry casks.

Corbuso
..........
www.whisky-news.com
corbuso
Gold Member
 
Posts: 878
Joined: Tue May 24, 2005 11:56 am

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby Ganga » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:05 am

corbuso wrote:In addition, since the 1990s, there has been a changed in wood policy, problems of limited stocks, in particular of sherry casks.

Corbuso
..........
http://www.whisky-news.com


Well noted. I failed to mention the change in sherry.
Ganga
Matured cask
 
Posts: 23824
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2006 11:57 pm
Location: Sylmar, CA

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby whiskgeek » Thu Feb 02, 2012 7:26 am

Thanks to all for the replies.

Novice Scotch Fan, I note that a particular whisky can change from year to year, but I hadn't noticed it with Lagavulin before.

American Daughter, I've heard great things about Lagavulin's tours, and am looking forward to taking one myself.

Fscott, I can't say that I find it tamer, exactly, but definitely less unique. I can't quite put my finger on what it reminds me of, though. It doesn't have the vegetal notes I associate with the Bowmores I've tried. I've also had the thought "I have often wondered if it was just me and my more developed whisky palate or if it has really changed." But since there's one particular note (the sharp wood smoke) that I really love, which has disappeared, I'm going to have to say the whisky has changed quite a bit, very recently.

However, since I have never noticed a change before this, I certainly don't have as discerning a palate as Ganga, who noticed changes in quality from year to year.

And I wasn't aware there was any sherry in it.

Thanks again!
User avatar
whiskgeek
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 223
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:43 am
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby Jobi » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:02 am

I've noticed a negative change in the last 2 bottles I've had, which happened to be from the period where the prIce of Laga 16 here in NY was down below $50 a bottle at a couple of the shops. Not sure if it's related or not.
Jobi
Gold Member
 
Posts: 538
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 8:46 pm
Location: New York

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby whiskgeek » Fri Feb 03, 2012 3:54 am

Fifty buck? Wow! Here in Wisconsin, ten years ago it was about $80. It climbed to nearly $100, and is now back down to $80.

I happened to bring up the subject while I was at my dad's this afternoon, and he happened to have two open bottles, one from 2011, and one apparently from the previous year. They were noticeably different from each other, and both very different from what I remember.
User avatar
whiskgeek
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 223
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:43 am
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby MARS » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:59 pm

Tryed a recent bottling and I must say that it is more to my taste. But I never really liked the lagavulin 16 years old. Too earthy for my taste.
I like more the 12 years old.
MARS
New member
 
Posts: 66
Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:56 pm

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby andrewkelly » Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:49 am

I believe I have the answer. I read in a fellow whiskey fancier's book on whiskey, several years ago, that Lagavulin had changed it's recipe as it was not selling well, and never really had. This was because the world preferred lighter whiskys--but this was about 16 years go! Remember, tastes changed and bigger, bolder tastes became popular--in beer (small regional breweries), single malts, wines (malbec)--you name it. So, this entry opined that one had better appreciate it, as it was going to change when the window was up. I hoped, and then thought, that maybe they were wrong. They were not, as one can now see. You can see it by just looking at the bottle--the whiskey is far lighter now than it was a year ago. When you age something 16 years, you cannot pivot quickly to appease taste. I am going to try to run down the name of the book. Laphroig Triple Wood anyone? Or one of the new heavy Ardbegs? I still like Laga--going to take me a while to give it up--but it is lighternow, without the bite, the mud, the peaty iodine....
andrewkelly
New member
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:33 am

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby andrewkelly » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:05 am

P.S. to the recipe change--when I first started drinking lagavulin about 15-20? years ago, it was $32 a bottle, and no bars had it--then it became hugely popular--remember you could not even get it, at least in Manhattan in New York, for several months about 3-4 years go--then it doubled or more in price. If they knew then what they know now, they never would have changed it--but there is a clear change. Less smoke, less peat, less iodine shapness--it is much lighter in color and the nose is less tobacco. A serious substitution, for me, is Ardbeg Uigeadail. That's about as close as I've found. Maybe they changed it back when their sales went through the roof?

Here's hoping! I will try to track down the reference--I think the book was at a ski buddy's in Vermont in his bathroom...
andrewkelly
New member
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:33 am

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby The Third Dram » Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:27 am

whiskgeek wrote:It's changed... What do you think?

Of course it's changed!

The first momentous change occurred when UDV-Diageo decided to discontinue the 12 Year Old 43%ABV (White Horse Distillers label) version in favour of upping the age statement to 16 years. This alteration perhaps represented the most dramatic of all, as the original 12 Year Old edition was an absolute, unbridled monster of a whisky. Wish I'd purchased case-loads of the stuff!

In compensation, the newer 16 Year Old offered up, initially, a slightly more complex and, naturally, more mature potion.

Then there were those distillates produced during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Someone behind the scenes had the brilliant idea to increase the peating levels to 50ppm during this period, and the resulting releases of the 16 Year Old were beauties to behold. Alas, this particular phenomenon didn't last long, the distillery quickly reverting back to a more conventional ~35ppm peating level for the malting process.

Above and beyond these factors, there's the question of Sherry casks. UDV-Diageo has, pretty much across the board and over the last decade or two, transitioned from ex-Sherry cask usage to ex-Bourbon (and refill) cask usage, with the exception of special edtions and whiskies from its Distillers Edition series. Lagavulin has not escaped this transition.

These days, I pretty much stick to the 12 Year Old cask-strength releases. I am heartened, though, to hear of better quality as concerns more recent 16 Year Old releases. May even try one!
User avatar
The Third Dram
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2416
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:38 pm

Re: has Lagavulin changed?

Postby whiskgeek » Tue Aug 07, 2012 6:29 am

Thanks for the info, Andrew and Third.

So if they changed the recipe around 1995, and sales took off around 2000 (that's just a guess, based on when I started seeing the Classic Six)... and they decided to go back towards the old recipe... we might be seeing improvements in three years?

As I mentioned, last year's taste had lost the smoky complexity. This year's taste was similar to the earlier style, but very sweet, which implies a lot of sherry.

Oogie is my favorite right now, and I like it slightly better than the old Laga 16. I also like the Laga 12, but not as much.
User avatar
whiskgeek
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 223
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:43 am
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Return to Questions & Answers

Whisky gift and present finder