80s flashback – Lagavulin 16 year ‘White Horse’ 43%

Often when people of a peaty persuasion are looking for a reliable single malt to enjoy or gift, I will direct them to Lagavulin 16 year. This islay whisky is known for its ‘house style’ of well balanced peat, rich, dry and entirely dependable.

Lagavulin will officially turn 200 next year… unofficially it actually is a wee bit illegally older harkening back to 1795. So what a treat to sample an earlier incarnation of the iconic Lagavulin 16 year!

20151121_Lagavulin 16 'White Horse'

The third from our remarkable evening featuring rare malts… we tasted blind discovering:

  • Colour – Burnished copper (clearly sherry cask!)
  • Nose – Honey, vanilla, a very ‘classic’ feel, spice, sweet basil, light plum, saunf (fennel), a bit of nougat peeping beneath, mild pinch of peat
  • Palate – Oily, rancid, rust, copper, iron.. in short quite metallic, dry, chilly pepper, then starts to sweeten, cinnamon, a bit of chocolate, smooth and increasingly sweet with each sip
  • Finish – Sits there, doesn’t do anything in particular except for a bit of pepper

Comments included “has the smell of an old library” and the “taste of rust.” Which may not sound terribly pleasant however when you experience it, has a compelling quality.

With the reveal, it was considered the “dark horse” of the evening as it displays the classic roots of our familiar friend – the modern avatar of Lagavulin 16 year – with some distinctly different notes.

This particular bottle is a collectors item – part of the initial 16 year old releases in the 1980s under the ‘White Horse’ label.

Interestingly, Lagavulin was indirectly responsible for our evening… it was the ‘amazing discovery’ of Lagavulin whisky that sparked the whisky explorations that became Malt Madness – read the story here.

It also, in turn, transformed a regular working man on a trip postponing his flight back to India, getting a car and driving straight to the distillery to morph into India’s Malt Maniac.

It even brought together members of our Mumbai private whisky tasting group who 1st met at the Lagavulin distillery… A fitting note indeed to close our rare malt transport back in time to the flavours and feel of whisky from the 1980s.

This remarkable malt came courtesy of India’s Malt Maniac Krishna Nakula at an evening organised by The Secret Supper Project and The Vault Fine Spirits in celebration of 20 years of Malt Madness.

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