The past two years have seen three of Islay's most iconic distilleries celebrate their 200th anniversaries(Ardbeg and Laphroaig in 2015 and Lagavulin in 2016). As such, there have been numerous special bottlings released to celebrate such a milestone. Three of which we will try today. We will start of our vertical with the Ardbeg Perpetuum as it is an Non Age Statement bottling and so we can only assume it contains the youngest whisky of the three whiskies we are trying today.
Nose: Sweet barley, smoky bacon, moss, iodine(as you would expect) but all with a backdrop of wood glue.
Palate: It has quite a cloying mouthfeel. There are notes of American cream soda, sandalwood, kippers and bog myrtle.
Finish: It is of medium length and is quite sweet with lingering bonfire smoke and tobacco ash.
Lagavulin 8 Year Old Whisky
Nose: Very fresh and coastal, big whiffs of tar, bonfire, strawberries, leather and fishing nets.
Palate: More smoke than we are used to in Lagavulin(in a good way). Forest fruits, pipe tobacco, gun oil and a bit of milk chocolate.
Finish: Refreshing, long and smoky. Serious flashbacks of standing on the distillery pier!
Laphroaig 15 200th Anniversary Edition
Nose: Classic Laphroaig. Sea-spray, TCP, peet-reek, pepper and a huge lime influence.
Palate: Bubble gum, smoked oysters, more limes, pear drops, orange zest, cherries.... Basically its really fruity and the smoke just hangs about in the background.
Finish: Long and mellow with the peat lighlty lingering along with salt and pepper.
Overall: The Ardbeg is a nice dram. But it is the most expensive of the three and has a really youthful edge to it. And although quite different, it is almost impossible to choose a favourite between the Lagavulin and Laphroaig. The oiliness and the tar of the Lagavulin is just so unique and indicitive of its distillery character. If this was a blind tasting, I would like to think that I would instantly recognise the distillery. What I would have almost certainly have got wrong is the age. It is a whisky which belies its age. I wonder if they have a decent proportion of whisky that is older than 8 years in this...
The Laphroaig is one of their best I have had in recent times. The big medicinal flavours match the huge citrus influence of the whisky. It is by far the fruitiest of the three whiskies I have just tried. Its is a crying shame that this whisky is not part of their core range as it leaves the rest(think quarter cask, triple wood, lore) standing in the shadows.
If you were holding a gun to my head? It may just be the excitement of a new official bottling thats going to my head, but I, personally would choose the outright winner as the Lagavulin 8 Year Old.
It is one I certainly will be stocking up on for later years.