We all know about Diageo’s Game of Thrones range by now. Mostly repackaged NAS fare, it does however contain some interesting variants on distilleries’ standard expressions, of which the Lagavulin 9 year-old is an example. (the Clynelish is another, with a welcome high strength edition) After the success of the 8 year-old, a young Lagavulin at a higher strength than the normal 43% was certainly an enticing prospect.
Nose: It’s approachable and very sweet by Lagavulin’s standards. There’s a lot of smoke of course, but also very prominent banana and coconut notes, indicating more fresh bourbon casks in the vatting than is normal for Lagavulin.
Palate: Again, it’s quite approachable. The sweetness here manifests itself more as (orange?) jam, vanilla and a sweet green tea note, but of course there is enough smoke to remind us that it is indeed a Lagavulin. I am missing some of the traditional tar and brine though – they have been toned down by the bright fruit. It’s almost tropical at times, with the aforementioned banana and some mango.
Finish: Medium, on vanilla, peat and green tea.
Comments: I can’t imagine many die-hard Lagavulin fans loving this, but it does work as a softer, gentler introduction to the range for people who are not necessarily very experienced with the peatier side of malt whisky. Worth a go when it comes on offer (and it often does because I don’t think the Game of Thrones range sold as well as Diageo expected it to), but the full price is too much. Also, if you’re after a younger Lagavulin, the 8 year-old blows it out of the water.