I have had this Lagavulin three times. Twice at Whisky Guild tasting events, and once at a friend's house. All three times, I was wowed. (and obnoxiously taking notes) There are a few moments when you go to a large whisky tasting that you are enjoying a sample and things just seem to slow down a bit. As if the liquid you are enjoying has the ability to alter the space time continuum.
The Lagavulin 1995 Distiller’s Edition is one of those. While the Lagavulin 16 still knocks my socks off, this special variation is an excellent expression and a worthy cousin to the 16. It is finished in super sweet Pedro Ximenez dessert sherry casks and you can tell the difference from standard ‘sherry’ offerings. It has a darker amber color than the 16 and is thick and syrupy.
Nose: Surprised here. You would expect the smoky peat to come shooting out of the gates with Lagavulin, and crush you, but there is a distinct balance with this one. It is not just the classic smoke, but the woody fruit notes that ring most true. I get a mix of fruits, raisins and something else. (maybe plums?)
Palate: Rich, thick, and even sticky. Smoky and sweet, but not tripping over each other. Well balanced with some nutty notes (almonds/hazelnut?) and even some chocolate.
Finish: Long and luscious. The chocolate is much clearer here on the finish. Sweetness rules the exhale, not the smoke.
Islay, I can see this being a dessert whisky. The sherry is just enough to take this one up a notch to decadent. Granted, I would still prefer the 16 in a head to head battle, this is just a subltly different beast. The Ximenez casks really mellow out the smoke, and to a certain degree make the details harder to pull out. Overall though, you have to love it…I think if you paired this with some rich expensive chocolate (or just pop a few Hershey’s Kisses) you may just keel over with giddy joy.