Perhaps unfairly, my introduction to the world of Islay whiskies was the Lagavulin 25—an expensive but worthwhile lesson in how divine an Islay whisky can be.
I decided to check out the rest of the Lagavulin lineup. Thankfully, it’s not that large. There’s the 25, the much-enjoyed 16, and the more recently introduced 8. Outside of that, they have their yearly releases of 12 and 16 Distiller’s Edition. Thrown in a couple co-branded bottles like the Nick Offerman 11 and the Game of Thrones 9 and you’re all set.
As I open the 8, I’m surprised by its light white wine colour. On the nose, it’s peaty but not smoky like bbq or ash. It feels light, salty, and slightly fruity like honeysuckle. On the palate, a hint of sweet and floral quickly followed by the alcohol evaporation filling the mouth leaving a smoky, dry finish.
That smokiness comes through on the finish. Not as ashy as you might find in an Ardbeg. It’s meatier than that (but not overly so). But it’s still there where it wasn’t as apparent before. Finally, just a hint of dark chocolate at the back of the throat.
This might be a young spirit but it’s got plenty going for it to make it worth having.