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Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

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Related whiskies : Lagavulin 21 Years Old

Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Bloody Marvellous » Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:39 pm

I decided to crack my Laga 21 open. Something I'd been wanting to do since I first got the bottle.

But I must say, I'm unimpressed. It's probably because I'm still pretty much a novice when it comes to whisky, and I've been drinking the spicier stuff lately (Laga 16, Laph 15, Ardbeg Uigeadail, Talisker 10 & 18, and HP 12).

The aromas coming from the bottle when first opened were amazing, but soon seemed to dissipate. There's no lingering smell like the Laga 16 has. After sticking my nose back in the glass after a while there's nothing delicate that I can discern (but again I am a novice).

It's smooth (even at cask strength).

You know what, I'm gonna pour a dram of Laga 16 and compare them side by side... I'll be right back.








OK, maybe my memory of how the Laga 16 smelled has deceived me somewhat, or maybe it's the vindaloo curry that I had earlier this evening, but the Laga 16's smell is lighter than what I remembered, and much lighter than that of the sherried 21. The 21 is thicker, more buttery. The peat is quite pronounced in both, but I think moreso in the 16.

I'm having great difficulty finding words to describe the smells I'm getting from both whiskies. Here's to tasting then.

The Laga 16 has been sitting in a near empty bottle for a while. Not sure if most of the 43% alcohol has evaporated, or if I just got used to drinking cask strength whiskies, but there's almost no alcohol burn. There's a long aftertaste on the 16, it sticks to the tongue and roof of my mouth like peanutbutter. It appears sweet, even though I know it shouldn't. I still love this whisky, it's what really got me into single malts.

The 21 is an alcoholic monster at it's full 56.5%. Can't inhale too deeply or it makes my eyes water. I can appreciate the buttery, creamy smell more now that I got it side by side with the 16. It's mouthfeel is much thicker, heavier. Some ripe fruit appears in the aftertaste, though I wouldn't be able to tell you which one. The alcohol burn in the mouth is more present in the 21, as you would expect since it is at cask strength. (I'm babbling now, and stating the obvious. Please forgive me.) I've never drunk sherry, but I'm starting to get what it's all about now. There's clearly sherry influence in the 16, but nothing like the 21.

Wow... I think I'm starting to appreciate the 21 more just by comparing it to the 16...

OK, back to the 16 for a minute. Again the lighter smell. I can detect the American white oak, something completely lacking in the 21 (and that's a good thing). I'm detecting some grassiness in the 16 now and some hay. Going back and forth between the two... I gotta say I'm seeing the 21 in a whole new light. I should've done this right when I opened it. I've been having a dram of the 21 for 3 nights in a row without appreciating it's splendor.

Lemme just end this on the conclusion that I'm an idiot and still have so much to learn...
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Mike Ralston » Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:59 pm

Well I thought that was an ace review! I wish I could write them like that...
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Ganga » Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:46 pm

BM,

You have just provided an obvious tool for everyone to use when struggling with a dram. Two glasses and going back and forth between the two.

Secondly, is that you have shown that people new to whisky can tell the differences in whiskies although there may be a struggle in articulating the sensations.

Well done!
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby schitzengiggles » Wed Sep 16, 2009 2:27 am

buy a bottle of oloroso sherry, a useful tool when educating yourself.

also, the influence of peat reduces with time in wood. i'm not sure if the chemical compounds that cause the peat influence flavours vanish, or if other complexities that develop with age overcome peat influences. but it happens regardless.

the best example of this is Ardbeg - try a very/still young then a renaissance, or a 10yo 46% compared to a nam beist. talisker 10/18, HP 12/18 are also good examples, while they aren't as heavily smoked, the 18yo whiskies are decidedly sweeter than their younger counterparts.

the pronounced smoky characteristics in the younger expressions of the above whiskies generally give way to earthy flavours (reminds me sometimes of terracotta, or potting soil) and a slight sweetness and richness that the peat imparts.

therefore, as you seem to have already realised, the older laga isn't going to have the same 'oomph' as the younger expression.

nice work
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby corbuso » Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:10 am

Bloody Marvellous wrote:
The 21 is an alcoholic monster at it's full 56.5%. Can't inhale too deeply or it makes my eyes water. I can appreciate the buttery, creamy smell more now that I got it side by side with the 16. It's mouthfeel is much thicker, heavier. Some ripe fruit appears in the aftertaste, though I wouldn't be able to tell you which one. The alcohol burn in the mouth is more present in the 21, as you would expect since it is at cask strength. (I'm babbling now, and stating the obvious. Please forgive me.) I've never drunk sherry, but I'm starting to get what it's all about now. There's clearly sherry influence in the 16, but nothing like the 21.




Hi,
Just try adding some water to the 21YO if you are not used to cask strength whiskies. I prefer the 21yo to the 16yo, but the 16yo is a great whisky none the less.
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Reggaeblues » Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:49 am

BM, A couple of points to throw into your glass...

1st, as you rightly surmise, your taste buds might have been screwed by the curry, initially! I tend not to let whisky anywhere near my tastebuds when eating , or having just eaten, spicy foods.

2nd, when you go back to a "weaker" whisky after a "stronger" one, it can't help but taste tamer. Tha Laga 16 is "only" 43%.

3rd, Don't worry about "wasting" a couple of drams or being "bloody silly" or whatever. It often takes me two thirds of a bottle to "get to know " a dram...eg. the Ardmore that became commercially available a year or two ago. However, I try to be a bit careful if it's a pricey dram! Laga 21 ain't cheap, and I've only had a couple of small samples, donated by generous friends from this forum!! However, since Lagavulin has been one of my favourites for 10 years, I was immediately familiar with the 21.

That is not to say i was not delighted and surprised by it! I first tried it late at night, relaxing after a late gig. I turned on the TV, and a beautiful documentary on the recently "late" music legend Les Paul was just starting. It perfectly matched the whisky! In fact, I watched the first 20 minutes breathing through the glass, so delightful and "layered" was the nose, before even taking a sip. when I did, my immediate response was "Lagavulin 16 amplified times 10". One of the top five most memorable whiskies I've tasted, I would say. Bloody Marvellous, indeed!

But unless I get a serious royalty check, I'm unlikely to ever own a bottle!
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Shrek » Wed Sep 16, 2009 1:36 pm

Bloody Marvellous wrote:maybe it's the vindaloo curry that I had earlier this evening


:shock:

No wonder then :roll:
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby johan brugge » Wed Sep 16, 2009 5:01 pm

Damn BM, you write good tasting notes. And no, you're not an idiot. I really appreciate that you make the effort to get to know new whiskies.
Heel goed gedaan!
BTW I really like the 21 a lot!
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Bloody Marvellous » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:27 pm

Thank you all for your kind words :)

I had had a dram of the Laga 21 the two nights before (when I didn't have the vindaloo). I shudder at the realization that I wasted to glasses of this wonderful nectar.

I finished my glass a good hour after writing those notes, and went to bed with the biggest smile on my face I had in a while.

Damn that's a fine drink 8)
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby I_SPEY » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:39 pm

あなたは、この方法は非常によくやったか、血の不思議
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby johan brugge » Wed Sep 16, 2009 7:50 pm

I_SPEY wrote:あなたは、この方法は非常によくやったか、血の不思議

:D :D :D
Nice one I_Spey. Exactly my words too.
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby AdamMY » Wed Sep 16, 2009 8:09 pm

I_SPEY wrote:あなたは、この方法は非常によくやったか、血の不思議



I'm sorry my old japanese textbook is not around... what exactly is the translation?
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby johan brugge » Wed Sep 16, 2009 8:18 pm

Basically it means: " You did this very well, Bloody Marvellous." But instead of 'Bloody Marvellous' it says 'Strange Blood' but that is only a detail. I get the point.
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby I_SPEY » Wed Sep 16, 2009 8:24 pm

My version would be: the way you experienced this tasting for your self, was very good, Bloody Marvellous! (Not knowing that BM's name would be rather different :wink: )(It's the translator's fault :lol: ).
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Bloody Marvellous » Wed Sep 16, 2009 11:13 pm

どうして突然にみんなが日本語をしゃべってわかるでしょうか。

すごいと思っても心配していますよ。みんなが話せるとどうして僕が学んだだろうと思っています。

By the way, nice quote from Dire Straits' Private Investigations :).

P.S. 血の不思議 means "the mystery of blood". Bloody Marvellous is almost impossible to translate to Japanese.
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Reggaeblues » Thu Sep 17, 2009 12:01 am

No it isn't!

"Bruddy Marverrous ! Ragavurin twenty wan year odd! Flom faburrous Irray distirrely! In Japan we rike and derrink rots of Singer Mart WISKY!"

How do they do it?? A case of "Anything they can do we can do better"

The Yamazaki 18 YO. If you like this Lagavulin, give it a go!
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Bloody Marvellous » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:19 am

Is that the Yamazaki 22? Or a Lagavulin 22 I'm not aware of? :o
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby borgom » Thu Sep 17, 2009 10:54 am

Hi BM, have you considered saving some of the Laga 21 to try in a year or two's time (in an appropriately sized bottle to avoid oxidisation)? It would be interesting to see what your impressions are once your palate develops further. There are a few whiskies I wish I had saved a sample of to try again.
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby les taylor » Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:39 pm

Shrek wrote:
Bloody Marvellous wrote:maybe it's the vindaloo curry that I had earlier this evening


:shock:

No wonder then :roll:



Just caught up with this thread. Exactly my thoughts.

I love Balti peanuts. But I've come to the conclusion that they just don't go with whisky. They kill the taste buds.
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby schitzengiggles » Tue Sep 22, 2009 2:03 am

Reggaeblues wrote:No it isn't!

"Bruddy Marverrous ! Ragavurin twenty wan year odd! Flom faburrous Irray distirrely! In Japan we rike and derrink rots of Singer Mart WISKY!"

How do they do it?? A case of "Anything they can do we can do better"

The Yamazaki 18 YO. If you like this Lagavulin, give it a go!


lol.
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Reggaeblues » Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:55 pm

Sorry to give you a fit of the Schitz'n giggles!!

I think right about now, I should draw your attention, to the Bloody Marvellous(!!) review of the Lagavulin 21 in the 2009 Whisky Bible. JM originally gave it a low 80s score...and then decided to "revisit" it, and ended up giving it the kind of score I felt it deserved...96!

So we're all fallible/human/prone to curried taste buds...even "experts!"
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby dramtastic » Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:13 am

I agree with the post title, Laga 21 is disappointing!!!
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Reggaeblues » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:31 pm

The only thing disappointing about it IMO is the price...
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby jazz lover » Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:27 am

Now Reggaeblues don't get your blood pressure up. :evil: :D
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby dramtastic » Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:04 pm

Reggaeblues wrote:The only thing disappointing about it IMO is the price...


I was just seeing if I could get a rise out of anyone. I've never actually tried it. :P
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Reggaeblues » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:59 pm

Why you...!!

Hmmm, strange that I just watched an angry John Cleese as uninvited guest in an old python episode shooting the host!

don' mess wi' me and my Lagavulin jones.
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Jdiddy » Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:58 am

Wow, I am surprised. That may be in my top 3 whiskies of all time that I have tasted. With the right amount of water (very little mind you), it is mind blowing!
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Reggaeblues » Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:27 pm

I'd go with top 5!Some people have no taste...

Actually I have no taste..or smell!! I've had a bloody cold forever, and though it seems to be slowly clearing my nose and palate are totally dysfunctional. Soi i've been laying off the malts, as to do otherwise would be a waste.
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Wave » Wed Sep 30, 2009 3:29 pm

The Lagavulin 21 to me is one of those bottles that tells me,
"Yes, I am worth the money you spent on me!" :D


Cheers!
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby johan brugge » Wed Sep 30, 2009 4:20 pm

Wave wrote:The Lagavulin 21 to me is one of those bottles that tells me,
"Yes, I am worth the money you spent on me!" :D


Cheers!

Damn right Wave! You read my mind.
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Re: Lagavulin 21. Disappointing?

Postby Novice Scotch Fan » Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:05 pm

Bloody Marvellous wrote:Lemme just end this on the conclusion that I'm an idiot and still have so much to learn...


Ahh, if only I ended many of my early posts on scotch with such a truthful phrase.

Great review!
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